Everyone knows that you can check out books to read from your local library, but not everyone knows that public libraries offer many other services completely free of charge.
We do not watch television in our home, but we do not have much free time in which to read, either. Luckily, libraries offer audio books. I can read them while doing other things such as cooking, cleaning, knitting, and taking care of my baby. I can get a lot of books read this way, so I am working my way through the classics. Try an audio book or two if you are too busy to read books in your spare time.
Libraries are excellent resources for music. You should be able to borrow compact disks with music from many different genres. Many libraries also offer vinyl records and cassette tapes if you do not have a CD player. If you can play an instrument, you can check out sheets of music and learn to play something new.
Do you like watching movies or other documentaries? Most libraries provide them for free. Our current library charges only $1 for video rental, but our old library in Dallas, TX provided videos for free. They carry both VHS and DVD and you can find all kinds of movies or educational material. It sure beats paying to rent movies, even if you do not get the selection of a movie rental house.
Most libraries carry both newspaper and magazine subscriptions. Instead of ordering your own subscription, see if your library carries what you are after. You may be able to check issues out without having to pay for a subscription.
Library books are also good for more than just entertainment. You can learn how to do nearly anything from books, so educate yourself. Libraries have cook books, craft books, and instructional books on anything from gardening and photography to how to build automobiles. Libraries are a great free alternative to attending a university if you cannot afford school. Many professions can be self-taught and do not require a degree.
If you do not want to learn from a book, you may be able to take a free instructional class. Many libraries offer classes or free tutorials on how to do a variety of things such as knitting, art, or self publishing. Check your library’s event calendar to see what kinds of programs they offer.
If you do not have internet at home, many libraries offer free internet. Almost all of them carry a time limit, however. The best way to ensure that you will have a computer to use when you get there is to call in advance and make an appointment if possible. Our local library allows users one hour per day of scheduled internet usage.
One of my very favorite events is our library’s twice-yearly book sale. We can buy five books for only one dollar. Some books look new and make wonderful gifts. Others are added to our ever-expanding personal library. There is also always an excellent selection in the children’s section.
If you do not wish to purchase items, you may still be able to get them for free. Our library places a rack of free items out on the front steps each day. These are mostly donated magazines that the library already has copies of. There are also often books set out. I have a large collection of National Geographics that I have gotten from the free rack over the years. Ask at your library to see if and when they give away surplus items for free.
Libraries are fantastic places to take your children. I love taking my kids just for fun. They can spend hours looking at and choosing books and magazines to take home. Most libraries offer “story time” at certain times of the day. Many also host reading contests for kids that award prizes to those who read a certain number of books. Take home a copy of your library’s event calendar each month to see what special events they offer.