When I was a kid, I can distinctly remember going to the library all the time. I was a voracious reader and would take out many, many books each time – finishing them very quickly. I can remember learning how to use the card catalog (the actual one, with cards, in a giant filing cabinet! Not the computer version, which is about a million times better. Yes, I’m old) and spending hours wandering around looking for something new to read. I would take out science fiction and fantasy books, non-fiction books on science and math (yes, I know. I’m a nerd & I embrace it), and books on personal finance (shout out to The Wealthy Barber! Oh, there’s my nerd showing again). When I became an adult there was a few years where I lived in a town with a horrible library, and it just made me sad. So I went instead to a nearby town with a much better library, and now fortunately I live in a town with a good one again.
How long has it been since you’ve given the library a try? Maybe you’re like our family and you go every single week. Or perhaps it’s been years and you forgot that your town even had a library. It could be that you live in a town with a terrible library, but you’ve never explored surrounding towns. Libraries, even the best run, rarely have a large budget to advertise their services. Well – consider this a commercial for free fun at your local library (Buy now! Cost is only FREE-99!). With free books, magazines, newspapers, CD’s, audiobooks, video games, activities and more, it can’t be beat!
What is there to do? The better question would be, what isn’t there to do? Here’s just a sampling of what you get when you pop down to your local library:
Hundreds, thousands of books just ready to take out. Fiction and nonfiction. Adult and children’s books. Older books and new books. Books on any subject you want to learn. And what if your library doesn’t carry that book you want, you can order it through the library system and it will be delivered straight to your local library. If you like to read, or like to learn, you can’t beat the selection and the price. The library is where I take out all the books for my book reviews, like Stop Acting Rich and New Rules of the Game. And the library is where I first discovered the four books that changed my financial life.
My library has dozens of new and prior month magazines to pick from. Do you want to read a magazine on finances, on cooking, or on running? They’ve got you covered. So instead of paying for a subscription and having to recycle them when you’re done, you can take them out and read through them, then return the magazine for someone else to enjoy. Find an article you really like or a recipe you want to try? Check online to see if it’s available, or snap a picture of it with your phone
Let’s say you really want to read the NY times or the Wall Street Journal once in a while, but you usually don’t get time to read every day. Well instead of subscribing you can pop down to the library and read through them all at your leisure. It can be a fun way to spend a Saturday morning, or an evening when your kids are playing in the children’s section
This tends to vary by library, but ours has literally hundreds of DVD’s you can rent. For free! Currently my husband is watching Game of Thrones season by season. Every time we go we pick up a weekend movie for the kids-check out some movie night ideas here [link] and several DVD’s for the adults. TV series, movies new and classic, kids movies – the library has it all. And just like with the books, if your particular library doesn’t have a certain movie or show, you may be able to get it ordered from another library.
Free CD’s and Audiobooks
“Do people still listen to CD’s?” you may be asking. Well yes, I do. And audiobooks can be a fun thing to listen to in the car, especially during a long commute. Our family had heard a lot about “Hamilton” the musical in the news, and wanted to check it out. But we didn’t want to spend a fortune on the tickets. So we took the CD of the musical out from the library – and loved it!
Free Video Games
This also varies a lot by library. Ours has a small but excellent selection of older and newer video games to rent. This is a great way to test out how good a game is before buying it as a Christmas gift – do they actually play it or does it sit around unused after a couple days? Again you might be able to order this from another library. My kids always like looking to see if there are any new games available. It’s kind of like a treasure hunt for them.
Free Kids Activities
Summer reading (with prizes!), superhero day, reading programs for toddlers, activities for older kids – our library has tons of these. Heck there’s so many that sometimes I can’t keep up with what’s available! We always give them a try, although some are more fun than others. But anything’s worth trying once, and the price is right. In fact next month they’re having a Renaissance Fair!
Free Adult Activities –
No, not those kind of adult activities! Get your mind out of the gutter. Our local library has book clubs, guest speakers, free chair massage (from a massage school that needs the practice-score!), and a 3D printer you can use for free. My husband and kinds love the 3D printer, they’ve made so many cool creations on that thing!
When Your Library’s not the Best
Maybe your library is different than mine. “My library doesn’t have as many activities/a 3D printer/video games/etc.” you may be thinking. I have two recommendations for that – first, check out the libraries of surrounding towns. We visit a library in a neighboring town about once a month or so. It has a children’s book selection about three or four times the size of the one in our town, and many more interesting new books. We can even return what we take out to our local library, and they’ll ship it back! Don’t forget about interlibrary loan – it may take some time for the item to reach you, but the price discount (100% off!) is worth the wait.
The other recommendation is to get involved at your local library. Should there be a bigger kids section, more games/DVD’s, more new books, or more frequent activities? Check to see if you can volunteer to set up some activities, or petition your town for more funding for the library to purchase materials. Talk with other parents about what they’d like to see and then talk to the library to see how it can happen. Maybe you can help organize a fundraiser to purchase materials for the library. Don’t give up on this excellent resource for everyone – poor, wealthy, and in between.
I hope this “commercial” for your local library has gotten you all excited about stopping by. But act now! They’re going fast and only available for a limited time!
What’s your favorite thing to do at the library? Are there any fun things I missed? Let me know in the comments!