Today I’m singing praises about a resource most of us have access to, and few people ever use.  It makes my life easier, brings me daily enjoyment and costs NOTHING.  What is it?

The local library.

Seriously – if you don’t use your local library, you really need to check it out.  Libraries are so much more than dusty old shelves of books (although if you love to read, you’ll appreciate that too).  Ready for some examples of why the library is such a great resource?

  1. It’s free.  Unless you habitually forget to turn in your books, the library will cost you nothing.
  2. The library contains more than books.  Most libraries have DVD’s, audio books, music and magazines.  Mine also has board games and get this –  museum passes!  Yep, on our recent Spring Break we were able to check out family passes for two state museums and visit them for free.  This easily saved us $100.
  3. If your library doesn’t carry what you want, you can request it.  The library doesn’t have a book you want to read?  Ask them to purchase it or see if they can get it on loan from another library.  Most libraries are continually buying new material and they appreciate it when members tell them what they’d like to see.
  4. The programs can be terrific.  When my kids were little, we were regulars at story time – it was a fun, free activity we could do together.  Now they always enjoy participating in the summer reading program. Our library offers a program or two almost every day of the week – truly something for everyone.  Most are free or have a minimal cost.
  5. They try to make it easy on you.  If you are lucky like me, your library has an online system where you can put books on hold.  I simply log on every week or so, type in the titles of books I want to read (I’ve shared how I maintain a running list before), and then I get an email when the book is ready to be picked up.  The holds are conveniently located at the front of the library, and with self-checkout now available I can be in and out within 5 minutes.  Even libraries without online accounts will take holds via a simple phone call.

As an avid reader, there are many books I purchase, and I almost never tell my kids no if they want to buy a book – especially if it supports a small, local bookstore, but there are also hundreds of books I know I’ll only read once (hello most fiction), so I might as well borrow it from the library – this frees up money for all the other things I enjoy in life!

What does your library offer?  Anything different from what I’ve mentioned?  Share in the comments – I’d love to hear about it!

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