This week we are bringing you a quick pro-tip that can save you hundreds of dollars or more every year – taking advantage of your local library. In this article we’ll cover some of the services that libraries are now offering and why if you aren’t taking advantage of it you are wasting money.
The Modern Library
Public libraries have changed dramatically over the past two decades and now many offer a range of services that go far beyond what you might expect if you haven’t been to one in a while. Libraries are no longer just about checking out books. These days, especially in libraries in medium-larger sized libraries you can find:
- Books. Why buy all those children’s books and best sellers when your library will almost certainly have anything that you’d find on the shelf of a Barnes & Noble.
- Video Games. Many public libraries now offer video game borrowing allowing you to take home games for a range of different platforms (although perhaps not the most recent titles).
- Movies. Several libraries have substantial DVD collections, and some even offer electronic movie checkout.
- Museum and Zoo Passes. In many large cities the library will have museum passes that you can check out for a day or two, allowing you to save big on top attractions.
- Board Games. If you don’t play games very often you probably don’t want to buy them and have them take up shelf space for years. Just go check a few out for game night!
- Computers & Internet: If you can’t afford internet or don’t have it at home, head to the library where they’ll often have internet access on their PCs.
- Language-learning software. Why pay $500 for Rosetta Stone when you can borrow a copy for weeks at a time from the library?
In addition to these perks many libraries have branched out into additional items/services such as sports equipment lending, scanners for digitizing photos, power-tool lending, classes ranging from art to finance, telescopes and binocular lending, and more.
Don’t Waste Money
Whether you are a patron of your library or not, you are probably already paying for it via your state and local (taxes) and other means. Depending on which state and county you live in your breakdown will be different, but as an example, here is the snapshot for the Jackson District Library in Michigan in 2015. It was paid for via:
- Property Tax (on your residence, cars, etc)
- State Aid (from state income taxes on your income)
- Fines (from everything from parking tickets to white collar crime)
- Library fees & fines (i.e., damaged equipment fees, late fees, etc)
- Donations and other.
So, the community is already paying for 94% of their operating costs, and at least some of that money is coming from you! If you’re a member of a library in a big town that has lots of services, you can save like a pro.
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