If you haven’t noticed, your public library is not what it used to be.
Now, the library offers much more than just checking out books. As technology improves, so does the library, offering many new ways to learn and entertain. In the past, many library services have been underutilized because the mass population isn’t aware of what it offers. Check out the eight reasons why you need to put your tax dollars to good use and start making time to visit the library.
1. Many City Public Libraries Have Multiple Locations &Free Shipping to a Local Branch
I have used this multiple times. The cities I have lived in have 10+ local libraries within the city limits. Search the catalog from the location closest to you, and if the book/audiobook you are requesting isn’t checked out, you can request to ship it to your local branch for free. Sending from one location to another will take a few days to arrive. It’s an excellent way to get a physical copy of books/audiobooks without driving across town.
If you don’t live in a high population city, check out if your state Library and Archives Commission offers a library sharing program. In Texas, we have the Texshare program. The Texshare program includes over 500 libraries that you have access to (if you get a membership). Check out your state website for more details.
2. Overdrive, Hoopla, Freegal
Overdrive is an app that provides eBooks and audiobooks for reading online or downloading. This service is one of my most valuable reasons I have a library card. During a given week, I am on the road and in traffic for about 8-10 hours. Instead of listening to the radio, I listen to either podcasts or audiobooks. It has a reliable app that I can stream my favorite audiobooks. Some valuable audiobooks I’ve listened to recently include Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg, The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, Essentialism by Greg Mckeown, and The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach. I listen to audio books at 1.5-2x speed, and it allows me to adjust the speed similar to Audible.
The selection listed in Overdrive is what your library provides. You can borrow the audiobook or ebook for at least two weeks. If nobody has it on hold, you can re-checkout for an additional two weeks. After the checkout period is up, the eBook/audiobook removes itself from your app, so you don’t have to worry about remembering to return it.
If you live in a big city, chances are that the selection won’t be too bad. Right now I am listening to “168 hours” by Laura Vandercamp as mentioned in my October Goals.
Hoopla is another great virtual resource that you can use free with your library card. This service has digital movies, music, tv shows, audiobooks, eBooks, and comics. You can stream with your PC/Mac or use the app on your phone. Check the Hoopla app for details regarding check out timespan. Like Overdrive, Hoopla’s selection is based on what your library offers. Living in a big city with multiple library branches increase the chance for a good selection.
Another perk that I enjoy is that the app connects to Chromecast so that you can stream movies directly to your TV via your Chromecast plug-in.
Freegal has over 7 million songs and 5k music videos that can be streamed up to 3 hours per day and five downloadable tracks per week (Videos count as two downloads). By simply having a library card, you have yourself another free alternative to services like Spotify or Apple music. Like Overdrive and Hoopla, the selection is based on what your library offers. However, I have always been pleased with the selection at my local branch.
Note: Freegal has no Ads, too. 🙂
3. Magazines/Newspapers – Zinio Magazines, Press Reader
If you are a magazine lover, check out Zinio Magazines or Press Reader. You have access to over 200 magazines with Zinio, and over 5000 US and International titles with Press Reader. You can create an account with your library card credentials and get to reading without subscribing to any paid service!
4. Rent More Than Books – DVDs/Blue Ray, Video Games, CDs, Equipment
As mentioned in the earlier section, you can check out more than books nowadays. Using Hoopla or Freegal, you can rent movies and music with your library card. You can also get physical copies of Blu-Rays/DVDs, CDs, and video games. You can also check out equipment such as a power reader, Laptop, or Tablet. Check your local branch for availability.
5. Library Perks
Libraries nowadays offer a lot more than just checking out books/audiobooks. Perks include museum/aquariums/zoo passes, film screenings, Kill-a-Watt meters (to measure energy consumption), laptop checkouts, meeting rooms, some library’s/universities allow you to use Lynda.com (an online education company offering tons of video course to learn new skills) with your membership, and live homework help.
Free Classes and Events
My local library offers skills training, test prep, foreign language learning, job/career services, tax assistance, art classes, fitness (Zumba classes), resume building classes, computer training, book signing events. I’m sure we can all utilize some of these free classes, right?
6. Free Access
Instead of going to your local coffee shop have you considered taking your work or study to the library?
Free access perks like:
- free Wi-Fi
- free computer time
- free printing (most libraries include some credit that you can use for free, and some have 3D printing available)
- free power to charge your devices
- a quiet and comfortable place to get work done
All these free access perks make the library an attractive place to be productive.
7. Save Money
Our tax dollars fund libraries so we are already paying for the service. With all the free resources available that libraries provide, it’s a no-brainer that you are saving money and gaining a ton of value using the services they offer.
Many people use services like Audible for audiobooks or go to Barnes & Noble to get a copy of their favorite book. As much as I love both of those companies, both cost money. If you have the same book available at the library why pay the money? Personally, I’m not a fan of owning physical copies of books or DVDs. The majority of the time after we read books or watch DVDs, for the first time, they more than likely sit on a shelf for years collecting dust.
I understand if you keep a book to reference at a later date, but if you have a ton of books/DVDs that go unread and unwatched, what value are they providing you? Why not sell them online for some extra money?
How many hours a week do you spend on your favorite TV show? Or how much time do you spend browsing social media or watching the news? If you trade in a few of those hours and dedicate it to learning something new or attending a class, how much value could it bring you down the road?
The wealth of knowledge I’ve learned from books/audiobooks and the number of times the library saved me time/money is invaluable.
As you can see, libraries provide an incredible service to society. Now, you don’t even need to physically go to them to gain the benefits (outside of getting your library card). Spend some time at your local library today and see what it can offer you!
Questions for you:
Do you have a library card?
What Library services do you use?
Sign up below to get all the latest posts right to your mailbox. Plus my debt free guide PDF!
- Debtfreeclimb 2020 Update - October 23, 2020
- DebtFreeClimb v2- Our Debt Freedom Progress Report - June 17, 2020
- Trip Report: Our Honeymoon (not on a budget) - February 7, 2020
Alexander @ Cash Flow Diaries says
Libraries are highly under utilized I think. So many free books at your disposal. Its great. My friend works at a library and is always raving about how not enough people come in.
Agreed! I find it funny that people are willing to pay top dollar for books at retails stores when they can get a copy or listen to the audiobooks for free. So much value that most people don’t realize.
Alexander Miller & Associates says
Thank you for sharing! The article is very informative. So many insights.
Porter Capital says
Hey, thanks for bringing this up! Enjoying some free opportunities is always good 🙂