You probably have a pocket full of rewards cards: grocery stores, drug stores, fitness clubs, even fabric stores have them. However, there is one card that you definitely need to have: a library card.
A library card can save you money in so many ways.
First, there is the obvious: you can check out books. Lots of books. Fiction, non-fiction, children’s, foreign language. As much variety as the bookstore, but it is free! In addition, most libraries offer videotapes, audio books and music CDs for checkout. Current magazines and newspapers are usually for reading in the library, but often back issues may be checked out as well.
Beyond the books on the shelves, most libraries can order books from other libraries within the same system, or even outside of the system. Just today, I got online and ordered an obscure book from another library system within the state. It appears to be the only copy for miles, and it is still free! I’m loving this for several reasons. Not only am I glad that the price is right, but if I bought it, then it would be around my house forever. Since I’m only borrowing it, the book won’t be fighting for shelf space when I’m done reading it.
Most libraries also offer internet access. I find this very helpful when my computer isn’t working, or I’m a half hour from home and need to look something up, or I’m traveling and don’t have a computer with me. Policies vary, but a common standard is one hour of internet and five pages of printing for free each day. Library system websites commonly offer additional services, as well. Users can access online databases, download audiobooks (and sometimes even movies), or receive free online homework help.
My daughters are voracious readers, and I’m glad. This can get expensive, especially when they’ve latched onto a popular series and a new book is being released. I couldn’t believe it the first time I bought a just released Harry Potter book – I hate to buy anything at full (or near full) price and I think that hardcover books are a luxury. My oldest has been waiting anxiously for a new volume of her latest love, but the $27.50 preorder price was really upsetting me. Then I checked the library website and discovered that I could put a hold on it, even though it hasn’t been released yet. I’m not sure that every system has this capability, but my daughter is delighted that she’ll get first dibs on the book AND save her money at the same time.
Every library system has its own collection of special services – mine used to offer Rosetta Stone language training, but no more. I encourage you to head over to your local library, with a couple of proofs of residence, and sign up for a library card. You’ll be amazed at the things you can do and the money you can save.
For more thoughts on the library, check out Penelope’s post at Our Fourpence Worth.