It may have been a while since you paid a visit to your local library. Afterall, it seems like everything can be done online nowadays – including reading books! While we agree that downloading a book to your eReader can be instantly satisfying, there are still plenty of great reasons to stop by your local library. Aside from that wonderful feeling you get from holding a real book in your hands and turning paper pages to reveal the next line in a story, libraries hold plenty of other treasures that can be enjoyed absolutely free!
We perused our nearby libraries and compiled a list of over a dozen freebies you can partake in at a library location near you. (Plus a few freebies you can snag from your home just by vising your local library’s website!) These items and activities may vary by location, so please phone your friendly librarian to find out what your neighborhood library holds for you!
Video Games: With video games costing as much as $50 or more, what a money saver it is to borrow a video game for free from your library! Whether you’re looking for a game for your Wii, Xbox 360, or Playstation 3, you’ll definitely want to stop by your library before heading to your video game retailer.
Classes, Seminars, and Programs: Have a desire to pick up knitting? Need to work on your computer skills? Want to learn how to sell on eBay or Etsy? You’ll find a host of different literacy programs, tutoring, and specialty classes available at your library. Just check your library’s calendar to see their upcoming events.
Electronics: Many people are surprised to find their libraries offer many different gadgets, like MP3 players and cameras, available for free checkout. But it’s true! A great way to test drive an expensive electronic before you pull the trigger at the store, you can borrow items like GPS navigators, cameras, MP3 players, eReaders, and even energy monitors from your local library.
Bookmarks, Coupons, and Passes: From neat bookmarks to coupons and passes to museums and area attractions, these little freebies will save you money (or the page in your book). Your library usually has a family pass to major museums or aquariums (like the Intrepid Museum in Manhattan, NY), saving you a really pretty penny. They go fast (usually in the summer months), so try to reserve the pass a few days in advance.
Free Music: Some libraries belong to a free music download service called Freegal. If your library participates, you can log on from home using your library card and download up to three MP3s for free each week. Popular and recent albums show up on the Freegal library, and these tunes are yours to keep forever!
Free eBooks: More and more libraries are starting to offer free eBook loans through their website for the Kindle or Nook. You’ll find information on your library’s website and use your library card to access the growing libary of popular books. Just like at your local library, there may be waiting lists for more popular books. You’ll never have to worry about late fees with an eBook, though, since the loan automatically ends when your time is up.
Guest Speakers: Here’s another one to check your library’s calendar for. Guest speakers often make appearances at the library, giving you a unique opportunity to learn something new from local authors, artists, doctors, and more.
Music and Movies: From CDs to DVDs, most libraries have a big selection of music and movies available on several format styles. The best part is, you can usually find complete television or movie series available for check out. Although you will probably have to check each season out individually, you’ll save big when you consider the cost of renting multiple movies through your streaming media program or video rental store.
Computer CD-Roms: Whether you’re brushing up on a new language or browsing a digital encyclopedia, you’ll find plenty of free software to check out or use on the library’s computers. They typically have an especially great assortment for kids, who will get a kick out of the fun games and interactive learning software the library has to offer.
Magazines: Skip the racks at the store and drop your expensive subscriptions. Head to your library’s circulation desk to find stacks of free magazines and newspapers for you to thumb through. From Time, Glamour, and GQ to the New York Times and your local paper, you can stay up to date on a variety of different papers at no cost to you.
Large Prints: Here’s a sight for sore eyes. You’ll find a whole section dedicated to large print publications in your library, which are typically hard to find in your average store. These magazines and books feature a larger font format, making them easier to read than regular books.
Book Discussions: While it’s fun to participate in online book discussions, it’s even better to meet face to face with fellow bookworms! Join your library’s book discussion group and chat it up about your favorite recent read. It’s a great way to hang out and make new friends with local like-minded people.
Children’s Toys and Storytime: With summer just around the corner, kids will have plenty of free time on their hands. How to keep them occupied and entertained? Swing by the youth section of your library on select days/hours and kids will enjoy a fun book reading. While they’re there, they’ll find more than just good books to get their small hands on. Kids may even find stuffed animals, dolls, puzzles, learning toys and more stashed in your library’s kid’s corner.
Conference Room: Need a quiet space to hold a group meeting? Chances are, your library has a free conference room to gather in. Just make sure to contact your library ahead of time to reserve the room before you send out the invites.
Book Locator: Hunting for a book that your library doesn’t carry? Let the librarian know! Chances are, the book is available at another library location in your region. The librarian will happily contact the other location to have the book transferred to your location at no charge to you.
Ready to head to your local library? This public library locator will help you find the one closest to you!
What free items have you found at your library? Let us know in the comments below!