We are very fortunate to live in a city that has invested a great deal in its public library system. Austin has a brand new Central Library that is just over a year old and is a destination for library lovers. We also have public library branches all around town that provide important community services. The library is a resource for everyone, but it is invaluable for those of us living on a budget! I am amazed by the number of adults I encounter who never use the library! People who don’t have a library card and don’t know all the great services offered here. Let me break it down for you, and hopefully I will convince you to go make the most of your own public library.
- The first and most obvious thing: Get *just about* ANY BOOK YOU WANT for free! You can utilize the library’s online system to put ‘holds’ on books you are excited to read, and when the book becomes available it will be set aside for you until you come pick it up. Genius!(Pro-tip: If the library doesn’t have the book you are looking for, you can submit a request for the library to order it.)
- A huge collection of e-books, available immediately via 2 different apps. OverDrive and Libby, by OverDrive, allow you to check out e-books and have them sent directly to your device. OverDrive is the classic app and is compatible with more devices. Both OverDrive and Libby allow you to access your library’s digital collection- so many books available to you right now! And did I mention it’s free?! Bonus- Hoopla is another app connected to your library account that allows you to access e-books, audiobooks, music, AND movies! With all these options for accessing content you can be reading and listening any time you want.
- Kanopy is a streaming service and app that allows members of participating libraries to stream 5 movies for free every month. Kanopy includes over 400 titles from the Criterion Collection, so get ready to watch some of the greatest classic and contemporary films!
- Hard-to-find items. Instead of first looking on Amazon for that random movie you want to watch that isn’t available to stream anywhere, see if the library has it on DVD. For example, we were able to watch the beloved LGBT classic, 1993’s Tales of the City mini-series starring Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis. (It might be available to stream now, but a couple of years ago it wasn’t!)
- Check out the calendar at your local library: many public libraries have free events on a weekly or monthly basis. Our public library has lots of awesome things going on all the time for people of all ages: craft nights, movie screenings, public speakers, story time, yoga, ESL practice, the list goes on…
- Use the library as a hang-out spot. Sit and read, use a computer for free, get some work done in a quiet place around other people who are working. Our local library has started putting out puzzles and every time we go in we spend about 15 minutes working on the community puzzle. Libraries are an important public place where anyone can go and there is no expectation to spend money.
So, if you don’t already have a library card, go get one! Usually all it takes is a photo ID and proof of address. Go explore what your library has to offer. Check out books, DVDs, audio books, e-books, music. So many varieties of free entertainment!
Do you use the library? What are your favorite things about the library? Read any good books lately? Tell us in the comments!