And it doesn’t exist for the sole purpose of housing the complete series of Lost.
If you read any version of the countless, generic 99 Ways to Save articles, you’d think the library is some old throwaway. A place you borrow books and DVDs from after you’re knee deep in financial doo-doo.
Well, I’m standing up for the library. You people don’t give it enough credit. It is truly, frickin’ awesome.
Until recently, I also undervalued my local library.
After going there almost every day for the past six weeks, I finally noticed the variety of free offerings available. Actually, they’re not free, but, whether you like it or not, they are funded with your tax dollars.
Because libraries are locally run, the extent of products and services provided vary.
Audiobooks and eBooks: Even though my library has some pretty sweet books on CDs, I gotta be mobile. Which is why I appreciate its wide selection of iPod / iPad / Kindle compatible digital media. Similar to traditional books, a limited number of electronic copies are available for checkout at any one time. No biggie. Place the item on hold, and borrow it when it’s “returned.”
Free Books: Not to rent, but to own. A few years ago, I grabbed a copy of Your Money or Your Life from the rinkydink library around the corner from my place. I picked it up, walked out, ain’t say nothin’ to nobody. I didn’t need to. It was there for the taking. Ask your librarian where they’re hiding the free book stash if you have trouble finding it.
Wireless Internet: In the event this whole quit-my-job, become-a-superstar thing doesn’t pan out, I’m not going back to work. I’ll sell my wares and live in the library. It has clean drinking water, a community garden, and free internets. What more do you need? The only thing left to worry about is how to catch a nap without stoking the security guard’s ire. That guy derives way too much pleasure from startling college students and homeless people awake.
24/7 Access to Premium Subscriptions: There are so many amazing options. It breaks my heart that I can’t list them all without putting you to sleep. I’ll give you five, but see what else your library has by exploring its website.
- Consumer Reports
- Learning Express Library
- MorningStar Investment Research Center
- Mango Languages
Meeting Rooms: Many libraries let you book study rooms for two or more individuals. If you need an area that seats considerably larger groups, you may be able to find one at a nearby branch. Your meetings have to be free and open to the public. That means you can’t use the library to hold your pricey Road to Real Estate Riches boot camp. But still, a no cost, high quality seminar could be a great way to get the word out about your services.
Educational Workshops: This is one of my favorites. Primarily because you can ask the presenter questions, exchange ideas with other attendees and network. Again, your library will probably have different options. So that you get the idea, here are a few examples of classes offered in my region.
- Starting a business
- Investing for retirement
- Using coupons to save money
- Creating a resume
- Growing your own herbs
- Crocheting for beginners
- Paying for college
Tech Training: While I’m waiting for a PowerPoint 2007 course to appear on my library’s calendar, these goobers are holding classes on how to use Facebook. You can even make a one-on-one appointment with someone who’ll show you how to set up AND download books onto your eReader. Unbelievable.
Even if your local library sucks, hope lives on.
Don’t limit yourself to the county you reside in. You’re probably eligible for library cards in surrounding areas. For instance, I can take advantage of libraries located in Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, and a decent chunk of Maryland.
All these years you were ignorant of the library’s awesomeness. It’s OK. You didn’t know. Now that you do, you can stop buying stuff you already paid for.
What other services does your library offer?