Libraries are such fantastic places to be. I love the hush that envelopes you when you enter a library, the smell of old paper, and even the way that the bindings of all the books create an almost mosaic effect on their shelves.
Libraries are, simply put, wonderful.
Of course the fact that my reading style could be described as “voracious” could have something to do with my feelings.
I love that as a frugal living expert I have the opportunity to tout the wonder of the library as a frugal tool to all and sundry. So, what are the 27 reasons that your library is a fantastic frugal place to be?
1. Libraries have books & magazines, and they let you read them for free.
Ok, this may seem obvious, but if you love to read as much as I do, anyplace that lets you read books for free is on the top of your frugal favorites list! Honestly, I take out about 5 books a week, minimum. At,oh, let’s say $7 a book for paperbacks (I’m guessing here folks) that’s a savings of over $140 a week.
2. Ditto on borrowing videos & DVDs for free.
Sure, you might have to wait a bit to see the latest releases-but the selection of movies that most libraries have these days is incredible. Why bother paying for a rental at your local video village, or from the Redbox, when you can grab one for free at the library?
3. Ditto yet again on borrowing books on tape/audio books for free.
When I take a long car trip I love to have a book on tape to listen to. Hearing a story just keeps me awake and alert while the miles slip by. Books on tape are great to listen to while doing boring chores or while taking a walk. Kids also love listening to books on tape-especially when they like hearing stories that are a couple of levels too advanced for them to read by themselves. A standard novel would cost you over $20 to buy on tape new, so borrowing from the library can save you quite a bit!
4. If your library doesn’t have what you want to read/watch/hear available you can most likely get it through “Iinterlibrary Loan”-again, for FREE.
Even if you have the smallest library on the planet, with the wonders of inter library loan you have an almost limitless selection of books, videos, music and audio books. Each state sets things up differently, but here in NY I can just jump online (or ask the lovely ladies at the library itself), browse the card catalogs of all the libraries in 4 counties, request an item and then it magically shows up at my local library at no cost to me when it’s available. They even call to let me know it’s in. And if I can’t find a book that I really want to see, then I can tell the librarians and they can do a request for an “out of system” loan from anywhere in the state.
5. Libraries have internet access.
Almost every library these days has at least a few computer terminals dedicated to internet access for patrons. You may only be able to get online for 20 minutes at a time (depending on how busy the library is and the policies they have in place) but for someone who doesn’t have internet access using the library is a very frugal alternative. Also if you are on the road it’s nice to know you can pop into a local branch library and use the internet to check your mail.
6. Libraries have free Wifi
Ok, so not every library has free Wifi these days, but more and more do. As a blogger, internet junkie and laptop owner knowing that I can always get my fix for free is a big plus.
7. Libraries have summer reading clubs
Reading programs are a great way to encourage your kids to read in the summer. By reading a certain number of books and tracking the details children can win awards or prizes. My library this summer is even running an adult reading program. Heck-I’ll keep track of what I read for the summer if it will win me some free library swag!
8. Libraries have free kids programs
Most local libraries run some sort of children’s programing-both during the school year and in the summer. My local branch has story hours, crafts for both kids & teens, free computer classes, summer reading clubs, “PAWS” (a program where children read to dogs-which mine LOVED), and various types of entertainment weekly in the summer (try a ventriloquist, live animals and a puppet theatre!)
9. Libraries offer free meeting space.
This might not hold true for every library out there-but all the ones in my area offer free meeting space (as the schedule allows) to local groups. I attend my weekly TOPS (take off pounds sensibly) meeting there, the historical society meets there, and I’ve personally scheduled meeting space for the theatre.
10. Libraries are~frequently~air conditioned.
Ok-in the heat of the summer I will admit to going & hanging out at the library just to enjoy the blessed cool.
11. Libraries host book sales.
When the library has too many donations for their shelf space (which happens frequently for the paperbacks) they usually hold book sales. Our library always has 3 or 4 shelves right in the front full of books they are selling for $1 each. Then in the fall they do a more extensive book sale. I’ve heard many homeschoolers say this is a great way to pick up reference books on the cheap.
12. Libraries have office equipment you can use inexpensively.
Sometimes you just need to photocopy something, or send a fax, or print something out. Although many folks have equipment to do these tasks at home-not everyone does. And if you do these tasks very infrequently it is probably much more cost effective to pay your library $.10 a copy or $1 a page to fax something rather then shell out the money for a printer/fax/copier that needs to be stored, maintained and have ink & paper purchased for.
So what other ways can you think of that make your library a frugal place to be? Leave your ideas in the comments and I’ll add the ideas into this post!