When is the last time you visited your public library? If it’s been a while, you might be surprised all the new things that they have to offer. People who are trying to save money and or live a greener lifestyle will find that the library will be their new best friend.
1. The obvious one: Books. However, more and more libraries are jumping on the digital bandwagon and offering e-books for checkout just like traditional printed ones. You can read these books on your computer or e-reader, just like the ones you buy, the only difference is they will disappear once your checkout period is finished. Some even have audio books available for download as MP3s!
2. Music. You might remember borrowing CDs from the library (or, if you are really old, albums!). Libraries still offer CDs and cassette tapes and many also lend digital media. Just like the digital books mentioned above, you can’t keep the files forever, however it’s a great way to sample before you buy and widen your musical tastes.
3. Videos. Some libraries charge to borrow VHS tapes and DVDS however at some libraries it’s completely free. You can find everything from educational films to today’s blockbusters to borrow at the library.
4. Internet access and computers. Almost every public library now has computer stations where people can access the internet or use programs like Word. If you have your own laptop computer, most also offer free wi-fi. Do call ahead to find out if you need to book time on the library’s computer and/or to learn any time limits.
5. Resource centers. Larger libraries often put together special resource centers to help those seeking knowledge on everything from starting a small business to learning about medical issues to car repair. Not only are the materials put together so that they are easy to find, you’ll also be able to ask the librarians for tips on where to start your research and how to find related materials.\
6. Access to subscription based websites and databases. Libraries usually have subscriptions to professional journals and databases so that their patrons can access the material. Many also have subscriptions to websites like Consumer Reports that can be quite pricy to purchase.
7. Used books. Libraries often sell their excess books and magazines at annual book sale, along with books donated by the public. Some even have year round used book sales. All proceeds go to the library and it’s a good way to keep books in circulation. It’s not all old dusty books from the 1950s either, many libraries purchase dozens of copies of popular best sellers to ensure they’ll have plenty to lend and sell off the extras once the demand is reduced.
8. Storytime for kids. Children’s librarians have evolved with the times and storytime is more likely to involve plenty of audience participation and songs and dance than a prim old lady going “Hush!” Some libraries even have a library of educational toys and games that you can check out to play with in the children’s section.
9. Classes, seminars and social activities. Libaries seek to serve their patrons by offering them classes to help them learn new skills and enhance their lives. They also schedule talks by authors and other learned people and have book clubs and other social outlets. It’s a good way to learn new things and make new friends!
10. Librarians are a wonderful resource. They help people with everything from finding the perfect children’s book to having contact information for local social services. They are there to help so don’t hesitate to ask them questions! And be sure to thank them for being such a valuable asset to your community.
Find out more about what your local library has to offer by visiting their website. Don’t let fear over old overdue book fines keep you from utilizing such a treasure trove of information.