If you’re like me it’s probably been a long time since you’ve been in a library. That’s fine. Most of us have an antiquated view of what libraries do and are for. As it turns out, libraries can actually be pretty awesome and can save you money. Here are some ways you can save money from the library.
1. You can stream stuff for free
Many of us have Netflix accounts but there are other ways to stream. Using your library card, you can check out a service called Hoopla. Using Hoopla, you can stream movies and TV shows without spending a dime. It’s not as stable as Netflix or Hulu but if you can stand the bugs you can watch some pretty good stuff for free. There are also Android and iOS apps available!
2. You can get free audio books
Libraries have a lot of books but they also have a lot of ebooks. They may handle it differently depending on your library but the premise is pretty much the same. You get a download link, download the file, listen to it, and then in a couple of weeks the file will self destruct. Listening to ebooks is relaxing and provides great background noise when you’re doing other stuff like cleaning the house, cooking, or driving.
3. Borrow the latest movies on DVD or BluRay
Everyone knows that libraries have movies right along with books that you can borrow for free. However, did you know that most public libraries will get the latest titles in the day they come out? Unfortunately, savvy library users will reserve their copy to rent weeks (sometimes months) in advance. You can always wait in line with the reservation holders if you prefer or you can check in with your library and find out how to hold your own copy so you can get in before everyone else. They also have countless older movies which can still make for a fun, quiet evening at home that doesn’t cost you a penny.
4. Get free trips to the museum
Many public libraries are becoming part of the Museum Pass Program which means they have free museum passes to give out every month. Not every library does this and the ones that do participate do not have a lot of passes. That means they’re first come, first serve. If you want to try this out all you need to do is inquire with your library and then get a pass!
5. Access family tree archives for free
There are a lot of genealogy websites out there and they can cost a pretty penny to join. Some libraries are already members of these websites and will let you browse on their dime for free. A lot of people don’t need a service like this except for school projects but a penny saved is a penny earned, is it not? Plus it can be fun to see where your family came from and what they used to do.
6. Read magazines for free
We know a lot of people don’t really subscribe to magazines anymore but those that do pay for magazines don’t really need to. Libraries keep a stock of the latest magazines from the biggest publications on hand and you can go in and check them out anytime you want. Most magazine subscriptions are negligible but buying individual issues can cost upwards of $10 and even some subscriptions are pretty expensive.
7. Free conference rooms
Most libraries have conference rooms that you can book for an hour or two totally free of charge. They come with large tables and chairs and you can sometimes borrow things like projectors for presentations. You can use this for practically anything such as book clubs, Dungeons and Dragons campaigns (I’ve personally done this), work related stuff, or practically anything else. They’re there for your use.
8. Yes, sometimes even tools!
This is something that is apparently catching on although I haven’t personally seen it in my area yet. Apparently more and more libraries have a section of power tools that members can borrow for a week or two. This is amazing if you don’t own a lot of tools and want to do some DIY home improvements or even something as simple as hanging a shelf. This isn’t everywhere though so call and check first!
9. Music instruments
A lot of libraries have a selection of musical instruments in stock for those who may want to learn. This is actually something they do for school students who can’t afford their own instruments and may have to borrow them. If you’re interested in learning an instrument or want to practice one you’ve been using, the library lets you do it for free. Musical instruments are insanely expensive so this is the only way some people get to hone their skills.
10. They have computer labs with free internet
Not everyone needs internet 24/7 and there are plenty of people who don’t have internet at all. If you need to hop online to check your email, apply for jobs, or check out social media then you’re in luck! Public libraries generally have computer labs with internet access that you can use for free. At my local library, they have a 30-60 minute time frame so if it’s a busy day you may not get all the time you need. On less busy days you can sit there almost all day if you have to. They’ll also let you print off things for a small fee. If you don’t print off enough to warrant buying a printer then this can also save you money.
11. It’s a free place to go to be alone
The popular and hip thing to do is to go hang out in coffee shops. The only problem is that you generally have to buy something to stick around in a coffee shop. In a library you can walk in, buy nothing, and hang out in there all day if you need to. It’s pretty quiet, you can listen to your own music, and in some public libraries the couches and chairs are very comfortable. People looking for a quiet, chill place to work on things can find few better options than the library. Your “coolness” may take a hit, but coolness is overrated anyway.
12. You can rent free books
Lest we forget why the library is there in the first place. For books! Books are still pretty expensive these days and reading is still a thing that people do (and should do more of). As always, you can get a heaping pile of books from the library and keep them for a while. Books can usually be checked out longer than other items unless there’s a waiting list.
Libraries are pretty awesome. Most public libraries have worked really hard to remain current when it comes to the needs of people. 20 years ago all they needed to have were books and they could have fallen into obscurity but they didn’t. If you haven’t done so in a while, just go visit your library to see what kind of stuff they can do now!
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