To some, a library might just be a place to find free books when you feel like reading but don’t want to spend your hard-earned money on a book. But the truth is, many of them offer much more than this. If you’re living on a tight budget, the free library services at your fingertips can be a great way to find books, entertainment, community engagement, and all sorts of other great free resources. And despite whether you actually use them or not, your tax dollars are paying for them, so you may as well take advantage!
We’re going to take a look at five free library resources for you to use, particular when you’re living paycheck to paycheck.
The free resources available at a library have expanded into the digital realm, with a lot of libraries now offering DVDs, video games, and audiobooks. Audiobooks in particular can be seamlessly incorporated into your busy schedule. They’re great to pass the time when you have a long commute to work, are at the gym, walking your dog, or making dinner. If you’re a bookworm but don’t have the time to read as much as you’d like, this can be a great alternative.
Libraries are also great if you want to check out a movie without going to the theater, buying or renting a movie, or paying for a subscription fee. While there are plenty of cheap cable alternatives for you to choose from if you’re a serious movie or TV fan, if you’re on a really tight budget and/or watching movies isn’t particularly important to you, you may not see the value in paying a monthly subscription for a streaming service. If that’s the case, DVDs are a great free library resource for someone looking to have the occasional movie night. You can even find full seasons of TV shows to borrow if you want a new show to watch.
It’s normal to think of shelves and shelves lined with books when you picture a library, but many libraries have been pushed into the 21st century by broadening the spectrum of things they carry. One of these new free library resources is e-books. Some of them even offer e-readers for people to take home with them.
This can be a great tool for all sorts of things. For example, maybe you’re planning to head out for a lengthy vacation and you want to have access to enough reading material to get you through your trip. Checking out an e-reader from you local library and filling it up with magazines and books is a great way to avoid hauling around a heavy stack of books wherever you go. Maybe you’re trying to decide whether you want to pull the trigger and buy one for yourself. Before you do that, borrow one from your library and see how much use you get out of it to help you decide if it’s really worth the cost.
Being a parent can be expensive, and it might be hard to keep up with every new toy or children’s fad on the market. If you need to find ways to keep your kids entertained but don’t have the room in your family budget to constantly buy them new toys, a library may be able to help. Some libraries will have children’s toys for you to borrow for kids! You may be able to find things like dolls, music makers, puzzles, and more. While you obviously won’t be able to keep the toys, they can be a great free library resource to keep your kids entertained for a couple of weeks before you go back to the library to get them something different. And don’t worry about you or your kids picking up germs from other children; these toys are typically disinfected before they’re made available for rent.
Toys can get expensive, and as your kids grow up, they may start to lose interest in them fast. You’re then left with a bunch of toys that you have no use for and that you’ve paid a pretty penny to get in the first place. Instead of running out to buy them something new and continue this cycle, visit your local library first to see if they can help you out.
Owning a laptop and having internet access at home may seem commonplace, but that doesn’t mean it’s cheap. If you can’t afford your own computer and don’t want to pay for a pricey internet service, libraries can be a great resource for you. Some of them will have laptops available for you to borrow, and offer free Wi-Fi. They also might offer printing services for a small free, which can be great if you don’t use a printer frequently and just need to print off a few items on occasion.
Not only can you take out things like e-readers and laptops, you may also be able to leverage the free library resources offered locally to expand your skillset. Check out what type of programming your local library has to offer to see if they have any classes you’d be interested in taking. This can range from things like yoga and meditation classes, to chess clubs and literacy training. You might be pleasantly surprised to see all the useful opportunities for growth your library has to offer!
This might also be a good opportunity for you to get involved with helping others to learn a new skill. Maybe your local library offers classes for people to learn English, and if not, maybe you can start one yourself. Whether you’re the one learning the language or teaching it, this can be a great alternative to pricey private lessons and can be a great way to help your community.
Even if you’re not interested in teaching a new language, libraries can be a great place to teach a skill or interest that you have to others. Many libraries set a goal to put on a certain amount of programming and outreach activities every year. This could be a great opportunity to work on your ability as a teacher, get involved in your community, or work on your skills as a public speaker.
Today’s libraries offer so much more than a place for bookworms to browse through aisles and aisles of books. Whether you’re looking for a source of free entertainment, to get involved in your community, or develop a new skill, libraries are a great place to start your search.
Finding ways to gain access to resources and tools when you’re living on a tight budget can be difficult, and you may feel like your finances are holding you back. But there are plenty of amazing free library resources out there waiting for you to take advantage of them, so what are you waiting for?
Do you use any free library resources we haven’t mentioned? Share in the comments below!