Every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.
When Jesse was in law school, there were a lot of really hard things about that season of life, but there was one huge bright spot about those law school years: the library. I’m not exaggerating.
You see, we lived in Topeka, KS, and it’s home to what I consider to this day to be one of the best libraries in the U.S. It was new, it was large, it was clean, and it was FREE.
We had almost no wiggle room in our budget, we were a few hours away from family, we lived in a town where we knew very few people, and we were newly married. Needless to say, that library was a sanctuary for us. We spent countless hours there. In fact, when we went back to Topeka for a visit not too long ago, we stopped by the library for old time’s sake.
When we moved to Kansas City, we were blessed to find a rental that was within walking distance of the library. Every Friday, I’d load the girls up in the stroller and we’d spend a few hours at the library — checking out books, playing with puzzles and games, and playing with the train set. We didn’t have a second vehicle, so the library became on oasis for us in Kansas City, too.
Yes, I’m a wee bit sentimental about libraries… but they’ve saved us so much money over the years and provided so many hours of inspiration and entertainment that I just can’t help myself. 🙂
While the library is a great place to check out books, of course, most libraries also offer many other money-saving programs and resources. Here are a few more ways to save at the library:
1. DVDs & CD’s
Not all libraries offer free DVD rentals, but if your library does, take advantage of it! Our kids especially love checking out old TV series to watch during movie time each day. We also have enjoyed checking out music CD’s from the library, too.
I can’t even begin to fathom the money we’ve saved by checking out DVDs from the library over the years instead of renting or buying them!
2. Kid’s Toys
Many libraries have kid’s play areas — with puzzles or other toys that children can play with. It’s a great place to take your children on cold winter days that doesn’t cost any money (and mom can bring some books home, too!). All for free.
Check your library to see what their audiobook collection is like. Many have a pretty extensive collection — and some even offer audiobooks you can download for a time period.
Have you checked to see if your library offers ebooks you can “check out”? Here’s a tip from Hannah:
Many people don’t realize that most public libraries have eBooks available for checkout through their websites. All you have to do is log into your local library’s site using your library card, then follow the links for eBooks (often, there are also digital audio books available).
In just a couple of minutes, you should be able to search through the available titles, download your selection, and begin reading on your device! No late fees for failing to “bring the book back,” because it will simply expire after 2-3 weeks. This is a great, free way to read some of the newest and most popular books without paying a cent — or leaving your home! -Hannah
5. Local Attraction Memberships
Some libraries offer memberships to local attractions (zoos, museums, etc.) that you can “check out”. If your library offers this, it’s a great way to visit local attractions and have some family fun — without spending a dime!
6. Online Foreign Language Programs
Want to learn a foreign language? Michele from Saving Money In Real Life emailed in this tip:
I recently learned that my public library has an online foreign language program that I can access for free. There are dozens of foreign languages available that I can learn!
Many public libraries across the country have the same free program. It’s called Mango Languages. If you check their website, you can find out if your local library participates. You can find out if your library participates here.
I thought your readers might enjoy this program especially those who homeschool. My son and I just discovered it last week, and we’ve been having a lot of fun with it! -Michele from Saving Money In Real Life
7. Summer Reading Programs
We started doing our library’s summer reading program in the past few years and we’ve been incredibly impressed with it. Not only does it provide huge motivation for our children to get in a lot of reading during the summer, but the rewards are amazing!
The above picture is what our kids earned from last year’s library reading program. Not only did each child get to choose a free book to take home, they also got a bag stuffed with great coupons and offers from local businesses — things like free Kid’s meals, free miniature golf, a free smoothie at McDonald’s, free baseball game tickets, free ice skating passes, and more.
Note: If you have a relatively small library that doesn’t have a great selection, check and see if they offer Inter-Library loan. Most libraries do, and this offers a much, much broader selection. You have to request the book and then wait for it to come in, but it’s free–which usually makes it worth a bit of a wait!
You can also suggest books for your library to purchase. They might not heed your suggestion, but it’s always worth a shot.
Rebekah from Simple Rebekah shared that her library also offers the following two resources:
Online Classes – My library offers free online classes through Universal Class. There are hundreds of classes to choose from out of there 42 areas of study. Some of those areas include: office skills, performing arts, parenting, homeschooling, do it yourself, gardening, cooking, computers, accounting and web development.
Kindles — I was shocked to find out that my library just started loaning out Kindles! They come pre-loaded with 15-20 titles. My library has 13 Kindles, each with a different theme. The themes include New York Times Fiction & Non-Fiction Bestsellers, Romance, Mystery, Science Fiction, Classics, Popular Fiction, Biography and more! This is a great way to test out a Kindle before you buy one.
How do you save money by using the library? What other ways do you use the library? I’d love to have you add to my list!
we are currently following 10 of these out of the 52 because many do not even apply for us because Wal-mart no longer price matches where we live, we have no Aldis close but I can say we get a big bang for the 10 we followed in 2017.Even after adding Netflix,amazon,and Hulu with an extra channel we still save almost 80 a month which is over 900 a year,my gym went under so I am saving 40 a month or over 400 a year.I just need to be a little more pro active in working out…..it is a little harder.I go to the salon only 1-2 times a year saving some as well .I am too afraid to cut my own hair.We do some home-made mixes like taco seasoning chili seasoning,and cajun plus I even made my own sweet chili sauce because our stores did not have it.I saved on the mixes but not the sauce….lol…..savings do not equate to much maybe .50 a month but that is still 6 dollars a year.We currently are sharing a car not by choice for 3 of us and I do not see any savings because of all the extra miles and gas being used ………We also get movies at the library and I have saved a little making my own cleaners as well and I bought a formal dress at a thrift store when I did not have 50 or more to even buy one on sale and bought hubby a suit for the same reason and saved probably over 200 dollars and later when I did have the money and Dillards was having a awesome sale I could not bring myself to purchase the 50 dollar dress marked down from almost 200……When we added a brand new shirt and tie and hat for hubby from K-mart and TJ maxx and new shoes from wal-mart for me we looked nice! We also saved a little at Christmas this year by putting up less.Which was less on our electric and less stress for us.These are just some of the ways we saved some last year…….
Our library has an area near ths newspapers that has a basket of coupons from the sunday papers.,a gold mind find as i dont buy newspapers.
Becky Walters says
Not sure if this has been mentioned but many libraries have a subscription for ancestry.com that you can use for free!
Our library recently started offering magazine checkout through an app. There is no restriction on how many people download an issue so no waiting. A bonus they have a subscription to all my magazines so I was able to let our subscriptions expire and we just get our magazines e-delivered now for free!
I’ve never been a big fan of the library – due to under-exposure growing up. It was really just used to researching term papers in school. However, being a new mom and needing things to take my toddler to that are fun and cheap, I’ve re-discovered the library this year. A friend of mine and I meet up weekly to attend the “Bouncing Babies” class where the library puts on a program of nursery rhymes, songs & movement activities. Baby LOVES it and it’s fun for mom to have an outlet to chat with other moms with same-age kids. Our library system has lots of programs like this from birth to adult so I’m looking forward to taking baby to many more in years to come.
I was shocked to see my library loans out board books for babies. Of course I wiped every inch of it with a bleach wipe & let it dry before letting baby touch it (and watch him like a hawk so he won’t chew/ruin it) … but it’s a great way to start exposing him to more reading early on. Board books can be $6-$10 each and since there’s usually no real “plot” I know they’re short lived so we don’t have many in our home library … but he has loved the ones we’ve checked out (usually he sees them in bouncing baby class and then we check it out).
Our library puts together an activity calendar every quarter … which is amazing.
Free gifts to those who participate in programs … This year alone we’ve gotten a free height measuring wall chart (with recommended books by age next to different height milestones), a free fabric Taggies book (vendor donated a stash to the library & they gave away as Christmas gifts to all moms in the bouncing babies class) and an annual monthly calendar with daily activities to expand child’s learning – using stuff I have around the house – each month has a different theme like “numbers, letters, sounds, etc”.
Falling in love with my local library … and recommend to new moms to research baby-programs at their local library. 🙂
Ashley P says
Don’t forget to keep your eyes posted for library sales. Yes, you will be spending money, but you’ll hardly spend much.
When I was 16 I popped into the library during a sale. I picked up a beat-up copy of The Count of Monte Cristo for a nickel. Best nickel I ever spent. That book entertained me for an entire summer. The only real damage to the book was a tear on the cover. I didn’t mind. If you have some loose change you can spare, you can usually pick up a handful of books for less than a dollar, and they’re yours to keep forever and ever! Just make sure it’s a book you really want.
Ashley P says
And I’m a huge fan of the audiobook downloads! Since I work 8+ hours a day, I don’t nearly have as much time for reading as I used to. This allows me to listen to a book while I work. Re-listening to Chronicles of Narnia as I type this. 🙂
Debra C says
I live in Topeka, KS! And I agree that our library is absolutely amazing. We do so much there. We visit at least once a week for storytime or my daughter’s book group (not organized by the library, but they meet there). My kids love the art gallery and the library just recently updated their kids area with some very cool art items. There are free computers in the kids area with learning games on them, in addition to the standard free public use computers. They have Freegal, Overdrive (for checking out ebooks), something or other for free audiobooks (which I recently gave a try and decided were not for me), I’ve recently accessed the free Muzzy for my daughter to learn Spanish, and they have laptops and iPads to check out by the hour. Not that long ago, I told my friend, who lives in Phoenix, to look at her library for something she needed. I don’t remember what it was, but I knew it was something I could do here. I was so surprised when she looked into it and the libraries there didn’t offer that service. It makes me appreciate our library so much more.
I’ve lived in several Kansas towns, and loved the cake pan check-out system at a couple of them (we only need that Ariel cake pan once, anyway!). I’d add that we should go ahead and ask our libraries if they are interested in adding this or that service, and they will often be happy to go for it, if we will help get them started. Our library also has a simple shelf that serves as a magazine swap spot. Yea for libraries and kind librarians!
Margery Hilburn says
I love our local library! We visit it every week on the way to piano lessons. Two of my children are big bookworms, so it has saved us thousands of dollars per year.
Two other great free resources: Gutenberg.org offers free ebooks for all those great classics which are no longer copyrighted. (We are reading the “Merry Adventures of Robin Hood” aloud now.). Also, librivox.org has free audiobooks. I listened to “The Pilgrim’s Progress” over the course of several days while cooking dinner.
Be sure to check them out, too!
Thank you so much! Just checked and our library has Mango. I’m on chapter 2 of basic spanish already. It’s a great program. Thank you again!
Mary Hughes says
Our library offers bin to a bin of recycled magazines.
Jill Straw says
We live outside city limits, so we have to pay a yearly fee. However, this is still extremely cost-effective. Our kids LOVE the library.
I have very fond memories of our small, dark library growing up. As a teen it was replaced by a HUGE new bright library, but I will always have the memories of the lick and stick stickers our summer reading program had in that small, dingy building…..
I’m kinda envious of that pic of the coupons and other cool rewards from the summer reading program. I have three little ones who did the summer reading program at our local library the summer before last, and the prizes were just pitiful. One week was actually a book, but the rest of the weeks were just cheap junk that didn’t last five minutes. Really disappointing. So we read all the time anyway, but didn’t do the summer program this past summer.
My local library just recently began lending puzzles.
Our library also provides craft time every month and lots of great activities during the summer for the kids. I’m not a big crafty mom, but taking the kids to craft time is easy and free.
In addition to crafts and storytimes, check out to see if your library offers homework help. Every library in Philadelphia offers a homework help program, as well as many other large cities. Libraries also offer specialized programs, such as SAT Prep, Financial Aid Workshops, AARP driving refresher courses, etc. Craft shows and book sales are also offered, and all of the proceeds normally go to the actual branch location you purchase the item/s from, not split between the entire city/county library system.
sarah k @ the pajama chef says
I’m a librarian at a university library, so I loved this post! A couple other things to add: if the library doesn’t have what you want, use inter library loan or request that your library purchase that book. Oftentimes they can and librarians LOVE to get book requests. Also, if you live in a town with a university or college, you may be able to use that library as a community member. Usually those cards have more limited checkout limits, but sometimes you can find more specialized materials there…even kids’ books if the school has an education program.
Stephanie K says
Our library system has themed kits that can be borrowed for two weeks. They come with CDs, DVDs, books, puppets, toys, games, and puzzles all relating to a particular subject, like zoo animals, the human body, the solar system, farming, etc. They also include a packet of printables that can be copied, like coloring sheets, activities, and teaching tips. It was like Christmas any time I brought a tote home. I can’t say enough good things about our library, I just don’t know why it isn’t busier! 🙂
Karen Rucker says
Our small town library in rural Kentucky offers all of those things and more. They have a small auditorium with a movie screen, so free big screen movies (with free popcorn!) Free video game rentals (wii, xbox, etc.) are available in the teen room. They have a lego building club (they provide the legos), tons of free classes on everything from crochet and basket making to how to prep for a zombie apocalypse. Our family favorite is their annual tie dye class. You provide the shirt, they provide everything else. And they offer free music downloads that you get to keep.
I love the inter-library loan program!
I am studying my way through collage and testing out of most of my classes, so I only want my study books for a few weeks. Requesting my books through the local university inter-library loan program has saved me a ton of money. (If testing out does not make sense to you check out CollegePlus.org, great way to save money on college and finish sooner!)
WorldCat is a world library database that I use to see how many libraries have a book and how close it is. Just lets me guess how long it will take to get the book or how likely it it will be available.
I love the library too, but now I have to pay $39 a year for a library card to use it. Used to be free. Bummer!!!
I saw on the news a library in Illinois offered to check out an American Girl Doll to go along with the AG books!!
We LOVE our library! And we just use a tiny branch of a not-so-nice old libary, but still….books are books. Since they got their online system, it is wonderful to be able to search for specific books from the comfort of my home and put them on hold, and best of all, to transfer them to our tiny branch to save me a trip downtown. No ebooks available yet, though our branch librarian told me the main director is working on getting that started for our area. Also, because we’re generally in at least weekly (sometimes more often), our librarian has gotten to know us and when choosing the books to rotate in from the main library she picks things with the branch patrons’ interests in mind. For example, my 9 YO is on a Nancy Drew kick and will check out what the branch has. Next time we go, the librarian has probably brought another stack over from the main library. Super kind of her. Also, I think this particular tip saves us more like $1000 a year or more. I usually read several books per week and have five kids who all love books as well. And as someone else mentioned, we homeschool so I will look for books we need and reserve them from the library, saving us on school materials as well. Interlibrary loan costs $1 per book but is still very worth it for some books in comparison to buying the book.
And last but not least, the library not only saves us money, but it helps us with clutter! We still have several bookshelves in our home but have cut back the number of books we own since we can so readily borrow them for free. 🙂
Our library offers free access to databases including Ancestry.com and other genealogy sources. That saved me a bunch of money when I was looking into our family history.
Nicole H says
I LOVE the library! The free books, the free events, the storytimes for kids, the helpful librarians… Books can be expensive, but creating a love of reading and learning – that’s priceless.
I love the library! I very rarely buy a book! If I do, it’s almost always with birthday money and a book that I just can’t seem to stop checking out of the library!
My parents live in a rural community far from the library. Recently the county got rid of the book mobiles that would come to the house once a week. Now there is a drop box located about a mile down the road. They go online, chose whatever books they want, and as soon as they are available, they are left in the box. My parents are sent an email saying they are ready and are given an electronic code to open the lock box. Although this lacks the personal aspects of going to the library and the fun for kids, it’s a great convenience for them, avid readers, keeping them from driving an hour to and from the library every week or two.
I thought I was the only sentimental one about the library! Used it alot as a kid, but truly came to appreciate it when I became a mother. As a rural family who didn’t use daycare or pre-school, I was always concerned about my children’s socialization. In addition to lots of playgrounds, I found story time at the library to be a great way to meet friends. Even though my last child was not as big of a reader as his siblings, he still enjoyed playing with the puppets there with his new friends.
If you wrote off your public library in the past, please do check and see if they have a website, or stop back in and see what might have changed. Libraries have limited funds, and they try and wring as much as they can from those dollars which leaves little left over for public relations and advertising. It could be that your library has quietly been adding services and resources without you knowing about it!
Our library offers free programs where they will bring in someone with live animals or birds to instruct kids. Our library often has little “scavenger hunt” activities where the kids get a free book just for completing something that takes 10-15 minutes (with 4 children). I’d say that’s a good return on our investment. I’ve even started putting DVDs on hold. I put a movie on hold as soon as it hits the list. For instance, yesterday I just picked up Planes from the library. It came out on DVD about 2 weeks ago, and we already have it. We don’t use these resources, but our library even has leap pads you can sign out and take home and lots of video games for different consoles. Just recently, I noticed that our library has shaped cake pans you can sign out. If you wanted to make a special birthday cake, that would sure save you money. We max out of number of holds all the time, and fill a crate almost every time we get there. Our county has a number of libraries in it, and you can get books out at any of them (and return to any of them). Whenever I need to run an errand in another town, I consider visiting their library. My kids cheered last night like we were going to Disney World when I told them we were going to visit a new library (and the biggest one) today. We love our library and have saved a TON of money (even with a few fines this year).
After quickly glancing at my library’s website, I also found online book clubs, a Pennsylvania online library that included magazines, kid’s “safe” searching (I’ll need to look at it to see if I will let my kids use it), a kid and teen section with games, homework help, and just a ton of other stuff. Apparently, I need to explore the website some more.
I love libraries, however mine is terrible! No kids toys, very few audio books, the only e-books are free ones (titles that are no longer copywrited), no local attraction memberships (not even a fishing kit to check out), no foreign language programs, no kindles, and inter-library loan is a charge of $3-$7 for cost of shipping. The county only has one library with multiple locations so I can’t even pay to go to another one! They very rarely buy books. But if you want a movie they go to the 5 dollar Wal-Mart bin every week. Be thankful you live in an area that has a nice library! I simply stopped going to mine, bought a kindle, increased my book budget, and travel an hour away to go to a large used book store every few months.
I’m sorry your local library is so limited. You can still save some money by checking into your state library. In Ohio, we join online and they mail us a state library card. I use it to borrow Kindle titles from the state library catalog website (the actual building is 3 hours away from me). Your state may have other online resources available to you such as audio books, online classes, etc. Worth checking in to.
Another option to try is a neighboring county. My husband works in a different county and he was able to get a library card there for free. They often have books available when our library’s are checked out. I put them on hold online and he picks them up on the way home from work.
As homeschoolers, we too are heavy users of the public library. With 3 graduates now, I am down to just 5 homeschool aged children. Something new we are trying this year is to pack up a few school books, and head down to the library for an hour each week. The littlest ones (grades 3 and 1) do one or two subjects and then browse the books in the children’s section and try some of the educational games on the computer stations. The older ones work upstairs (a little taste of freedom and an older child privilege) and work a little longer on their subjects. A huge plus for mom — I sit on the couch in the children’s section and READ! Wow! I never have time to read! haha! We haven’t made it every week, but have enjoyed it immensely the weeks we have made it there. The librarians know us now and they are always happy to see kids there in the daytime, using the facilities. I LOVE instilling a culture of “libraries are good” in my children !
Libraries are only “free” in the sense that you generally don’t have to open your wallet when you walk through the door. They are funded by our tax dollars. You’re definitely paying for all of those resources, so use everything you can!
Agree! Just like we try to take advantage of the area parks! We pay for them through our taxes so we might as well enjoy them!
I’m a librarian, so very happy to see this post 🙂 We probably save the most from nonfiction books. We’ve learned how to DIY many things and avoid hiring professionals to do so. Anything from crafts, homemade cleaners, books on managing finances, cookbooks, I could go on and on. Also save a bundle using workout DVDs and books instead of the gym and no excuse not to work out. I love that I can easily search reviews in Consumer Reports from the library’s website and can “shop” online, place hold requests, and have books I want waiting just for me when I go there. Free online homework help too
My latest find is Ancestry.com on our library computers. When my children are reading books, I look up Census records, ship passenger lists, etc. at a nearby computer. When I find what I want, I print it for 15 cents per page. I may eventually buy a subscription, but this has been a great, free resource in the meantime.
When my kids were younger, we used to do storytimes, puppet shows, movie nights, and other programs. My old library system also does Murder Mystery evenings about twice a year put on by staff and written by one of the librarians. They are a lot of fun – a night out, and free!
Love, love, love the library!
Thanks for the mention!
Don’t forget about genealogy research! I was able to begin a fairly detailed genealogy study for my dad’s birthday. At first, I was bummed that I didn’t think of it sooner because I wasn’t able to finish it before his birthday, but we were able to work together on “finishing” the research! It was great to spend time with him – All thanks to the library. If I had used an online site, it would have cost $30/month and we never would have spent that time together.
Also, different libraries in our district offer family movie nights! Last month they had a showing of “The Wizard of Oz”, complete with costume party. This month, they played Disney’s “Planes” and served pizza!! Can’t beat free dinner & a movie for this family of 5!!
When my girls were still in school, we went to the library all the time. During those homeschooling days, I got piles of books to use as part of our curriculum through interlibrary loan. Unfortunately, with the cuts in state funding, it now costs $1.o0 per book! I get enough free Kindle books to keep myself occupied these days, although I feel bad sometimes for not utilizing the library.
I used to love inter-library loan! Like you, unfortunately, my library now has to charge for this service. They’ve set the cost at $3 per book and so far and I haven’t found a book I wanted to read that much. I do appreciate that they have the program in place in case I choose to use it though! And I check out plenty of free books every week!
Rebekah from Simply Rebekah says
I love, love, LOVE the library. This year I made it a goal to keep my fine under $5.00. That did NOT happen. Oh well. The resources are worth it.
I used to live in a small rural town near a state park and our local library had fishing poles available for check out. Yes, fishing poles! Always ask your librarian what services they offer – you might be surprised.
Sometimes they offer free tax filing as well! I filed with someone doing free taxes at the library and it saved us quite a bit of money as I usually do our taxes, but with someone else taking a look at them they found a different way to save us even more money!
Our library has a program where you can “check out”, for a week at a time, about 8 different creepy crawly critters. They have different frogs, salamanders, turtles, etc and you get the supplies and cages along with care instructions and get to adopt the pet for the week! I think this is the most awesome thing for homeschoolers who want to get up close and personal to learn about an animal but don’t want the commitment of owning one. That is probably the most unique library item I’ve ever heard of!
I like going to the library but ours charge $50 for a years membership if you don’t live in the city limits. I can buy a lot of used books and audio books for that price. Then of course the gas just to get there (30 min drive). It’s sad that they can’t offer it free for everyone.
Jennifer B. says
I understand your point, but because you don’t live within a certain boundary, you also aren’t paying certain taxes that support that library. That’s why there’s a fee for you.
We live about 15 miles or more from the library so with the high gas prices, we crossed this off our list.
We have a lot of books here, and try to buy used books online sometimes.
Tips from a librarian: ALWAYS look into the eResources that your public library offers to you. Genealogy (free subscriptions to ancestory.com), Universal Class, downloadable eAudio and eBooks to check out through various vendors, World Culture AtoZ, Resume Builders and Standardized Test classes and practice exams (SAT, GRE, LSAT, NCLEX, GMAT, etc.) just to name a few! 99.9% of the time it’s going to be free for anyone with a library card!
As a children’s librarian I appreciate you plugging the library! It’s free and your local librarians do so much programming, book ordering and story times. Use it!
The Prudent Homemaker says
We use the library’s website to request books. They will send them over from anywhere in the district and tell us when they have come in. We have a week to pick them up, and they are on a shelf with the requester’s name on them, so it’s super easy to walk in and pick up your books.
Our library lets us keep books for 3 weeks, plus you can renew them three times, as long as no one is waiting for them (where I grew up it was 2 weeks with a one-time renewal, so this seems SO extravagant to me!) With this in mind, we try to get enough books to last a while, knowing that we can renew them (and knowing that 3 weeks can easily fly by!)
Free online courses of ALL types (not just language), free e-magazines, free access to websites that are usually by subscription (Consumer Reports, Ancestry.com, and others), free concerts and exhibits.
Yes, to all of your ideas and all of the ideas in the comments!
I take my home internet and wifi for granted, but libraries offer internet access, computer use, and printing options, too — which could save a lot, even if it was just a little break from the internet bill or data plan!
I reserve most of what I want online, so that saves time, which is valuable.
**AND I buy some books or CDs from the ‘friends of the library’ bookstore sometimes. You can’t beat their prices if you were going to buy that item anyway, or if you can resell it.**
Alisha @ The Savvy Bump says
I am sentimental about the library too. I grew up going to one every Friday and I read hundreds of books for free. My parents would never have been able to afford that many books so I am really grateful – the library changed my life!
Heather E says
Over the years, I’ve been able to check out beautiful pieces of art work, and attended events that included live owls, zoo programs, “petting zoos” of electronics (iPads, kindles, etc.), movies of books, author presentations, computer classes, book clubs, storytelling festivals, plays, and tons of craft opportunities—all for both adults and kids. Many libraries now offer computers, printers, and free wifi. I put new releases on hold, and often get them within a few days. When my kids were little, we attended tons of story times, and now I take my students for educational programs that they’ll design just for my class. Programs for teens range from publishing student-created magazines to video game tournaments, duct tape crafts, and the city mayor’s advisory council. The library is sooooo much more than books on a shelf! If your library doesn’t offer something you’ve found interesting, just ask! More than likely, they’ll figure out a way to offer it. Check out the library’s website, too–online catalogs make books easy to find, event calendars, new authors to try, and free databases can be found on many sites. To avoid fines, try making a weekly or biweekly errand a habit to drop off books. Would wiping down books with disinfectant wipes work for the germs?
This may be pretty obvious since you save money by checking out books at the library, but it really is a big one for us since we are homeschoolers. Our curriculum is literature heavy, so before I ordered a bunch of books that I know my kids will likely only read once, I checked our library. The catalog is online and I created a book list in my account of the books we need. I also made a spreadsheet to keep up with the books – which I need from the library and which I needed to buy. Then, I can quickly check the list every week to see if I need to put any on inter-library loan, etc. It probably saved us from buying about 50 books at least! And, to keep up with what we have checked out, I check my account online – I can renew the books there and I also set it up to get email reminders before they are due. We do have occasional fines, but our savings is still so great, I don’t get too upset about them 🙂
Katy @ Purposely Frugal says
If the library doesn’t have the book I want, I’ve successfully used the inter-library loan system. Oh how I love the library!!
many libraries also offer access to free gal, a site where you can download up to 3 mp3 songs per week – they don’t have all the popular ones, but quite a few and its a great way to add music to your collection!
Jess at A New Leaf says
Yes, my library has Freegal, too! My husband used to work at our local library. There are so many wonderful services. I would also add that events are usually free at the library, too. Our library does story time for tots (this is a good socialization tool also for littles), and they have other fun, one-off events. This year, our library celebrated Mo Willems’ 10th anniversary of the Pigeon books and had a big party with crafts. Your kids can craft for free! When I lived in a bigger city, the library offered free classes on making beaded earrings and other things like that. Patrons who went to the classes could take their completed projects home, so you could potentially use those classes as a way to make a gift for Christmas and learn the craft to buy supplies later to continue making items for gifts or possibly to sell if you have a knack for it.
Karen Rucker says
And don’t forget that you get the 3 freegal downloads per week per library card. We have 7 library cards in our family, so 21 free songs a week… that’s an entire album!
Katie L says
I started tutoring a college student this semester but the book he uses was $150 new and $60 to rent for the semester. I requested it through my public library and they were able to get it for me, for free, through early December!
Our library also has science equipment that homeschoolers can use on designated days each month. I can’t say enough about our fantastic public libraries!
Mara Yager says
My library also has a great program that if kids show their library card, the can get a free bus ride to and from the library! This is really nice in the summer for young teens who can be a little more independent, and are maybe practicing using local transit for school or work.
My husband won’t let me take our children to a library because he says they are rife with germs. He’s like, “Name any other thing that we would bring in our home that’s been in countless other people’s homes and let our children use. Nothing. So we’re not doing that with books either.” I love him, but I think this is a little weird. Someone please tell me I’m not alone! 🙂
Maybe you could still download audiobooks & ebooks from your library’s site? 🙂
Yes! No germs that way, right? 😉
The reason why I think it’s so weird is because we buy nearly everything used, so I don’t see a difference? Oh well, my children just get lots of books for Christmas and birthdays. 🙂
We do that with cash. 🙂
I too worry about the germs :-). I bring a washable tote bag for the books and take a clorox wipe to them all as soon as I get them home. I then toss the bag in the laundry.
Hmmm..never thought about that! I will say that my kids and I go to the library every week and bring home a huge stack of books each time and we very rarely get any colds/sicknesses (can’t say if the couple times a year we do get sick is from “book germs” or not!)
There are many, many germs on library books. I work there, so I know this is a fact. That said, to date, I have not died 😉 Probably because the same germs I encounter there are also present on grocery cart handles, every doctor’s office waiting room, etc. etc.
I would recommend germ killing wipes like Clorox or Lysol. Most library books are covered in a plastic cover which makes this very easy and quick to do. I wipe down whatever I check out from the library, it takes only a few seconds. If your children are small enough that they are still putting things in their mouth, maybe wait until they are passed that stage.
We used to wipe down each children’s book as well, but instead we just quarantine the books in a car or closet for a few days, or a week, and hope that the germs have all died off 🙂
I am also aware of germs! I just suck it up and always have told the kids not to touch their face. I try not to freak out since I have heard if you are around germs like that you build up immunities to them. I have 4 kids the oldest now 18 and they are rarely sick!
Karen Rucker says
Actually, exposure to normal amounts of cold and flu germs is good for your immune system. You don’t make antibodies for things you haven’t been exposed to. But more to the point, if you use cash, shopping carts, attend a public school, or go to a doctor’s office, you’re already being exposed. Teach your kids to wash their hands frequently and not put things in their mouths. That should be enough.
Really good tips for using the library! If you enjoy reading, you might also enjoy listening to books using a free app such as Librivox.
Laila (@OnlyLaila) says
I’m a HUGE fan of the library. However, I get caught by late fees! It’s so annoying and I get the email reminders and still wind up owing money. I finally saw an idea on pinterest to make a library book crate and write the due date on a chalkboard tag. Going to try that and see if that helps.
That idea sounds good!
I renew online, but still get late fees; however, I know they are still less than the rental costs, cable TV, or buying books.
I get late fees too but I see them as a donation to the library. But I would rather pay 70 cents for a week over due video than $5.
When we moved to a more rural area we were shocked and so impressed that if we notice we are going to be late on a media item (one we can’t renew ourselves online) we can call and the librarians can renew it for us to avoid the fees. I’ve made it my policy to immediately renew online when I get the e-mail and call that same day if I can’t renew it. It saves us a bunch!