A few years ago I rarely used the library thinking that they were out of date and held little value. I did not read a lot of fiction at the time and I used the internet for a lot of my personal research (mostly travel related). When our first daughter arrived we decided to check out what resources were available through the library and we were surprised. Now we visit the library at least once a week and it is one of our major sources of knowledge and entertainment. You want to save some money, rediscover your public library.
One of the aspects that I was impressed with was how interactive the library had become from home. Instead of visiting our local branch to see what is available I do most of my searches online as I can access the library catalogue. Your local library will most likely be one branch of a much larger network and the titles available will be far greater then what will be on the shelf at any one branch. You may have to wait for the more popular titles, sometimes more than a month, but I don’t find it an issue since there is lots that I am interested in. The library is a lot more than just books and I have provided a list of what I use the library for.
- Books: Wow, really! I still do not read a lot of fiction but this is where I go if there is a title that interests me. Our library does a pretty good job on keeping non-fiction titles updated so I will place requests on quite a few as I still find it easier to learn through a book rather than an internet site for many subjects. I like to curl up next to the fire reading a good travel guide. Most of the books we check out are for the kids. It is fun to take them to the library and get them to choose a few books that catch their eye. It can be a good outing during bad weather to go to the library and read a few stories or play educational games.
- DVD’s: We don’t rent or buy movies anymore; we simply borrow them from the library. It really surprised us to how many new movies our library orders. We are so far behind on our movie watching it does not matter if it takes a few months to watch a new release. We still go to the theatre once in a while for the experience, I have been twice in the past 10 months, but we do most of our movie watching at home. We average around 2 movies every 3 weeks as we just do not have the time for more. We are allowed to check them out for 3 weeks at a time (some libraries only lend them out for a week) and watch them whenever we have the time and want an escape. You can get television shows on DVD as well at the library. We do not watch a lot TV and have missed some pretty good series in the past. It is great for kid’s movies as well.
- Music: One of my favourite pastimes is to discover new music, at least new to me. I may not be a fan of the current top 40 scene but if you dig a little deeper there are some great new musicians and a lot of older ones that I have yet to discover. I tend to go online and through a variety of searches and I find and sample different music from around the world. If I like a certain artist’s work I will see if the library has some of their CD’s I can borrow. It is amazing as to how many titles they have in our library network. I quite often will transfer the CD on to my iPod/mp3 player and listen to it on walks or when I am doing chores around the house and decide if I really like the music or not.
- Audio books: As mentioned previously, I do not read a lot of fiction, but this does not mean I do not like fiction. The only time of day that I can sit down with a book is at bedtime and I rarely get through a few pages before falling asleep. Lately I have been borrowing audio books, both fiction and non-fiction, from the library and listening to a book when doing chores. Why not listen to a good story on your iPod/mp3 player while cooking dinner, folding laundry, or working in the garden. There are some good kid’s stories on audio book as well.
- Activities: Many libraries will host some great family events including the ever popular story time, but there is a lot more as well. Many libraries will have informative speakers for adults on a variety of interesting subjects.
- Online resources: With my library card I can access various databases with global academic publications, and statistical data. Many libraries allow you to read current newspapers from all around the world; I just finished browsing the Strabrock News from Guyana (Yes I know, I’m cool). I quite often see if the titles that I am interested in are available to download in e-book or audio book format. The amount available vary from library to library but are growing all the time.
If you like to read, listen to music, or watch movies the library can save you a lot of money. I asked Annika the other day if she wanted to go to the beach, the playground, or the library and I was surprised when she was enthusiastically chose the library. It would not always be her #1 but on some days the library makes a good choice and a lot of sense.