Want to learn how to save money using local libraries? There are many ways to cut corners without sacrificing fun, information, or resources. The local library is a treasure trove of undiscovered money-saving options.
There are some basic ways you can save money on checking out books–everybody knows that a best seller checked out from the library is free. But what if the library doesn’t have the bestseller you want? Do you have to shell out for the title at the local bookstore? Actually, in many cases, NO. Ask your librarian about getting that bestseller via interlibrary loan, which is also free.
Save Money Using Local Libraries: Free Stuff
The free wi-fi at the public library is an obvious money-saving choice, but once you are there using that wi-fi, be sure to ask about what other things the library can help you do for free. What do we mean?
Many public libraries have partnerships with local entities like museums, zoos, parks, and more. The North Dakota State Library, for example, has in the past offered a limited number of free passes for state parks and other recreational areas. These programs often feature passes which are checked out just like books, have a due date, and must be returned.
Some parents feel a bit stuck for what to do with their very young school-age children during the summer months. Some local communities have children’s programming at local theaters during matinee hours, but when your school-age children are in the single digits, age-wise it can be a challenge to sit still through an entire film.
Local libraries help you save money in this department thanks to programs like children’s story time (these offerings will vary from library to library–contact your local branch to learn what is available there), activities and more.
Those who live in larger communities may have public libraries with many offerings–some have 3D printing classes, music and media creation, and much more. These programs are usually free or have very small fees for materials.
Save Money Using Local Libraries: E-Books
A lot of frugality bloggers will tell you to save money by visiting your local library to check out DVDs and CDs–free entertainment! But what they do NOT tell you is that at times those DVD and CD offerings are limited, out of date, or otherwise not really of interest for many. Not so with your local library’s e-book checkout program.
Not all libraries have an extensive e-book option but many do. E-books aren’t the only thing you can check out–some services provide audiobooks, podcasts, and more.
Saving Money At Your Library
If you read other frugality blogs, you’ll read about people encouraging you to use the public library the way some use the coffee shop–free office space! This is not a bad idea, but beware those frugality bloggers (there are one or two who do this) who advise you to use the library’s printing services (usually for a dime a page or so) as a way to “save money”.
Whatever price you pay for library printing services is fine IF you are printing things you have to be IN THE LIBRARY to print. But if you are printing or copying work from elsewhere, print at home–it’s cheaper.
Joe Wallace specializes in personal finance, military affairs, and consumer protection topics. Since 1995, his work has appeared on Air Force Television News, The Pentagon Channel, ABC and a variety of print and online publications. He is a 13-year Air Force veteran and collects unusual vinyl records, which gives him an excuse to write the vinyl blog Turntabling.net.