Monday, April 18, 2011

Cheapster Feature: Libraries

This last week was National Library Week, and in honor of that, this post is dedicated to those paradises for frugal people - libraries. A lot of people don't make use of libraries at all, which is pretty sad for their wallets, but even those of us who do probably aren't getting the most out of our library experience. Here's Captain Cheap's advice to maximizing the (cheap and awesome) benefits of libraries.

* First, get as many library cards as you can for free. Most people think they're only eligible for a card at one library only. They might be true, but it's worth checking into. Ask your local community college and universities if they offer free community cards. Also, you might be eligible for library cards for other cities if you work or volunteer there. I just learned, for instance, that I'm eligible for a library card for the next town over because I volunteer for a nonprofit in their city limits that has a partnership with the library for all its volunteers.
        >>For the record, I currently hold four valid library cards, and this one will be my fifth. While I know that's a little extreme, heck, the more the merrier, right?

* Second, don't not go to libraries just because you're not a big book reader. There are a ton of other things to be had at libraries that will save you money, like:
      - DVDs that you can check out,
      - CDs that you can check out,
      - Audio books you can check out,
      - Bulletin boards that advertise local (often free/cheap) events,
      - Copies of local publications that might have coupons for nearby restaurants, services, etc
  Some public libraries also have video games, board games, and puzzles for checkout.

* Third, see what events your library offers. These are often free, and great ways to meet new people. Keep an eye out for:
         - Book clubs
         - Readings by local authors
         - Classes around technology/books
         - Movie showings
         - Used book sales

* Fourth, if your local library branch doesn't have a book you want when you go to visit, don't be afraid to request it from another branch or through interlibrary loan or to put it on hold. You're very rarely limited to what's on the shelves. Also, many libraries are starting to offer e-books for checkout, so ask your local librarian about that.

* Fifth, and I'm horrible about this, but avoid late fees by remembering to renew your stuff... most libraries let you do this online OR over the phone.

* Finally, I would suggest making one day every week or two a library day, like say, Saturday mornings or a day during the week when you pass by on your way to work/school. If nothing else, just go in and see what's new! You might be surprised at how much money your library could save you when you add up the savings from movie rentals, book purchases, and fun things to do on the cheap!


  1. Love it. We don't pay for cable, but are never short new material to watch. Our system also has book discussion kits to run a book club, "learning kits" for kids that are essentially a tub of toys by topic (we have had wooden blocks and rhythm instruments. We are waiting on our turn for the parachute!), online resources that are usually expensive to use such as I can go on and on, we live for our library!

  2. I like the large print books, they are easy to read faster,so I can check out more books.

  3. @RealMommy: Another service your library (which is one of my five cards, haha) offers that's really awesome is free online tutoring for K-12 aged kids on stuff like papers and math. I actually work for a tutoring company that is kind of similiar to the one that the Sno-Isle system has teamed up with, and our services normally run something like $20-$30 per hour.

  4. Oohh, check this out. Wish we had this option!