I have been reading and going to the library since I was a little girl. My mom has always inspired me to read as much as I can, and also to use the library to read all those books. I remember when I was in elementary school when all the other kids went to recess, I often asked the teacher for a library pass so I could go to the library and read. The library became my best friend at school. As a side note, kids were often really mean when I was in school and I was the subject of a lot of teasing and bullying, so the library was my escape from that torture. I’m not sure how I would have made it through school without the library.
Today’s libraries offer so much more than books though. So if you are trying to be more frugal and find cheap or free ways to entertain yourself and/or your family, pay a visit to your local library. When you take advantage of the resources the library has to offer, they can help you save some serious cash.
Books, Books, Books
Of course the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the library is books. They are stocked full of books, and if they don’t have the book you are looking for, you can often recommend it and they will order it for you. They don’t only have paper books, but you can also get ebooks and audio books. Most libraries enable you to use the Overdrive app (like the Phoenix library) to read on your Kindle, ipad, or even your phone. In addition, the physical library also has books on CD or MP3 to listen to in your car (if your car still has a CD player).
I personally get all of these because I love to read so much… I’m usually reading a hardback book, reading an ebook (that I can take with me everywhere and anywhere), listening to a book on CD in my car, and listening to an audio book on my phone for my walks with my dogs. Yes, I actually am “reading” about 4 books at a time. I’m a bibliophile – i.e. lover of books – Haha!
Watch Movies and More
A lot of libraries have a huge selection of DVDs – movies, TV shows, and training videos. For new releases, you may end up waiting on hold for awhile, unlike using Redbox, but if you don’t mind waiting, it’s a great way to save some dough. I really love the selection of old movies and TV shows that my library has. For example, I wanted to watch all the seasons of Seinfeld and Beverly Hills 90210 again and just requested them from the library and then worked my way through them.
The reason I often put in a request for books or movies is because the library I go to down the street may not have exactly what I’m looking for, but if one of the other Phoenix libraries has it, they will ship it to my library for free and notify me when it’s ready to pick up. They make it so easy!
Listen to Music
Libraries also have a great selection of music – CD’s at the physical library and access to digital copies using Freegal Music. Obviously, they don’t have everything you may want, but there is a good selection to save you a few bucks.
A Quiet Place to Work
Most libraries have a section of the library reserved for people to come and plug in their laptops and work. You can use their wi-fi and enjoy a quiet place if you can’t seem to find quiet working from home. Also, if you are prone to distractions (the laundry is calling or the dogs or kids need attention), see if you’re library has a place you can plug in and get some work done. You can easily go online to reserve study rooms or meeting rooms at most local libraries.
Computers and Internet
If you don’t have a computer or internet at home (yes, some people do not), the library will let you use theirs for free. Additionally, they often have software you can use like Microsoft Office or Adobe Acrobat that you may not have. If you want to print something, they often charge a nominal fee, but the service is available.
Activities for the Kids
My local library has lots of activities for the kids. They are all free and change with the holidays and seasons. For stay-at-home parents that want to keep their kids busy, but also not spend a ton, these activities are a great way to get adult and kid interaction for free!
Free Local Venues
The Phoenix Library has what they call a Culture Pass. Just using your library card gives you access to try local cultural activities for free. You can go to the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix Science Center, Phoenix Art Museum, or almost any other museum in the Phoenix area for free. All you have to do is go to the library and “check out” a pass that is valid for 2 people for the next 7 days. It’s a great way to visit your city’s own local attractions as well as see new places when visitors come in to town.
For example, my mom and I have gone to the Desert Botanical Gardens a couple of times using the Culture Pass. Regular adult admission for the Garden is $25 per person – that’s a $50 savings!
Education, New Skills, Resources
Are you looking for ways to increase your skills for your next job? Or how about just looking to learn something new? Look no further than your local library! Librarians are a great resource for helping you navigate the different things they have to offer. They can help you find books, websites, and even better, workshops that the library offers on resume writing, interview skills, and computer skills. I’ve found that the library continues to get more and more innovative on their offerings and you can often find something to learn you weren’t even thinking about.
The Phoenix library even offers Driving Tests, including motorcycle and CDL tests. The library partners with a lot of local organizations to bring your more fun, free stuff.
So Much Stuff
The library often has other stuff you can check out too:
- Energy Monitor – measure and understand what consumes energy at home
- Seeds – learn about gardening and gets seeds of your own to plant
- Technology –check out an ipad or laptop
The library is an amazing resource. You can save yourself a ton of money by utilizing everything the library has to offer. As an avid reader, I check out books the most (regular, ebooks and audio books), but I also always have a few DVD’s checked out too. I’m probably on the library’s website every day – looking for new books, checking to see when my holds will come in, and requesting new items. The library is one of my best friends, and gives me a way to travel somewhere different and experience drama in a different reality (books, movies), free entertainment, and reminds me of my childhood escape. We all “pay” for our local libraries through state and local taxes, so why not take a field trip to explore everything the library has to offer!
“Research shows that reading makes people smarter and is linked to a better vocabulary and improved verbal skills.”