As a kid, do you remember the magic of going to the library? They probably had more books in one place than you could fathom someone owning. You could checkout a book on almost every subject imaginable, and all for free.
I didn’t realize until I worked at my local library just resources they offer that can help you save money.
Working there showed me firsthand just how much libraries contribute to their communities and help their patrons save money. While a majority of the library’s collection is books and that is what they are known for, they offer so much more.
Here are 14+ ways libraries save you money.
1. You don’t have to buy books
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all the books available to you when you get a library card. Each time you check a book out at your local library, that’s one less book you need to buy.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love buying and owning my own copies of books I love and would like to read again, but if I’m probably only going to read or once, my local library would get more use out of owning than I would it because multiple people can check it out.
Don’t be afraid to ask
Many libraries also take book requests from patrons because they want to know what people want to read. Don’t be afraid to go up to the desk and ask if the library would consider purchasing a book. Who knows, maybe you weren’t the only person who wants to read it.
By requesting a book instead of simply waiting until the library decides to purchase it, you can often be added at or near the beginning of the waiting list for the book you requested, making you wait even shorter.
While this may not be directly tied to you saving money right now, by checking out books and increasing your local library’s number of circulations, you can help them receive future funding but allows them to keep offering their services for free.
Bonus: lots of libraries will show you, either on your checkout receipt or on your profile on their website, how much you’ve saved by checking books out from them.
2. Ebooks and audiobooks
This doesn’t just apply to physical hard copy books either. Many libraries now have online services, such as Overdrive and the Libby app, that allow you to use your library card number to check out e-books and audiobooks and download them right to your phone, computer, Kindle, or other device.
Similar to paper books, you can often request books you’re interested in, either through the app you use to download books on local library.
Not technologically inclined?
For those who want the ease of listening to audiobooks, but who want to use a more “old-fashioned“ technology, mini library is also still on audio books on CDs that you can playIn your car or other CD player.
Want to watch the latest Marvel or Disney movie but don’t want to buy another DVD that will just take up space? Well, I guess you could wait until it comes to Netflix or Amazon prime, but checking out DVDs is a great way too Watch movies and save money at the same time.
Like with books and audiobooks mentioned above, many libraries will take requests for DVDs. If they get enough requests, they may actually consider buying multiple copies, and then your wait would be even shorter!
4. Summer Reading Programs
Do you need some safe, for some summer entertainment for your child?
Look no further than your local library. Libraries put on summer reading programs for their patrons, usually following a state or national theme.
Once a week during the summer, kids of all ages can come to the library for storytime, and they will also get to participate in themed games, crafts, and snacks that all have to do with the story of the day.
Another benefit of summer reading programs is that they provide an activity for kids that doesn’t require an additional expense like a season pass for the pool or sending them to a summer camp wood. If your kids are shy and or haven’t been away from home much, this can be a great option to let them hang out with other kids.
Suitable for lots of ages
Many summer reading programs also have storytimes geared toward different age groups so older kids aren’t bored by the board book that is being read to the toddlers.
5. Computers and WiFi
Whether you have a computer at home but have a reliable Wi-Fi, your computer is so old that I can’t do what you needed to, or you don’t have a computer at all, your library is here to help.
Libraries often have multiple computers with softwares such as Microsoft word, Microsoft Excel, Adobe Acrobat, and more that can help you do what you need to do.
Need some quiet time?
If you need a quiet space to do work on the library computer or on your own personal computer, many libraries also have study rooms that give you peace and quiet even if the library is busy that day.
After hours internet
The benefits of library Wi-Fi don’t stop when after closing hours, either. Free Wi-Fi is usually available 24/7, and sometimes you can either use it sitting in your car or on a bench outside the library.
While not part of official services offered by the library, most library staff members know at least a little about computers due to the nature of their jobs and can help you solve some basic tech questions.
6. Safe place for kids
Need a safe place for your kids to hang out for a little bit with their friends? One that also gives them access to many educational materials and resources to help them with their homework?
Libraries are an awesome place for older children and teens to hang out with their friends without you worrying about them getting into any trouble.
Just a word of caution, though, don’t use your library as daycare. As someone who has worked in the library, we don’t appreciate it when children are left at the library without a parent and it falls to us to keep them in line so they don’t disturb the other patrons. This is why our library requires kids to be at least kindergarten age before they can be left alone at the library without an adult or older sibling.
7. Other services
Libraries also provide many services and supplies for things that you may only use once and can’t justify buying new or even used. These include:
- Classes and informational presentations for all ages
- Cake pans
- Printers and copiers
- Local and state newspapers
- Disc cleaners
- Faxing services
- and more!
This is just a sampling of what my small town library offers to patrons. Libraries in larger cities have even more to offer!
What does your library offer that helps you save money? Go check out your local library today and see what they can do for you!