A few years ago, I shared 10 reasons we LOVE our local library.
Since then, our family has continued to visit the library at least once a week for various events, activities, classes, story times… and of course, to check out more books!
We usually have anywhere from 30-50 items checked out at a time, and we return them (and check out more) almost every single week.
Although our local library is on the smaller size, we still have hundreds of books we haven’t read yet — even after 6+ years of checking out multiple books every week.
It’s crazy to think how much extra clutter we keep out of our house by reading borrowed books instead of buying them all ourselves!
The other day, I was sharing a funny story from a recent library experience when my friend stopped me mid-sentence and said, “You can check out puzzles from your library?”
Why yes, we CAN check out puzzles from our library — and so many other items as well!
That got me thinking about ALL the different things we can borrow (FOR FREE) from our local library… here’s my incomplete list!
Yes, my first item is a movie — but honestly, I’d probably rather have my kids watch a movie versus countless TV shows with commercials and advertisements.
Plus, they think it’s a HUGE treat to be able to choose their own DVD (DBD as the boys say!)
We don’t get DVDs every week, but at least once a month they can all pick out a DVD to take home and watch at some point.
Dave and I have also checked out free DVDs — sometimes seasons of shows we want to watch, other times just a movie we’re interested in. I’m not one to watch a movie more than once, so watching it once and then returning it is a huge perk for me!
2. CDs (music and audio books)
Although I am very musical, I’ve never been one to listen to music (I drive in silence!), which means I never buy CDs. However, our kids think CDs are super cool and LOVE trying to “carefully” take the CD out of the case and put it into their CD player in the play bedroom.
They get particularly excited about any type of “dance music” so we usually try to find at least one up-beat children’s CD each week. We also borrow children’s sing-along CDs for road trips or just to have at home.
Nora was a huge fan of audio books for a while, but now that she can read, we haven’t checked out any audio books for a while. The boys like using their headphones, but generally need me to listen with them so they know when to turn the pages.
3. Puzzles and Games
Yes! Our library offers a huge assortment of puzzles and games for weekly or bi-weekly borrowing!
Although our kids are still somewhat young for many of the games and harder puzzles, we’ve gotten a few over the years and it’s always fun to be able to enjoy the game for a week or so and then bring it right back again.
There have been a couple of games we’ve REALLY enjoyed, and after knowing how much fun they were, I scoured our local thrift stores until I found them for $0.50 a piece!
4. Digital Books
Dave and I almost exclusively “borrow” digital books from our library (with the exception of my cookbooks!) and it’s SO nice. We can simply select the books we want to read, and then send them to our phones (usually using the Kindle App) or get our name on the “hold list” to be notified when the book is next available.
Of course, they don’t have every single book we want — but between our library and Amazon Prime, we can find digital copies of almost everything we want to read FOR FREE!
5. Museum, Aquarium, and Zoo Family Passes
Our library offers week-long family passes to local museums, aquariums, and zoos. They usually only have 2 family passes for each organization, and you can only have the pass for 1 week from the day you check it out (so there’s no guarantee you’ll get it) but it’s probably worth checking on if you plan to hit up a local museum, aquarium, zoo, or other family activity.
The admission fees can be pricey — especially for a whole family! Free is always better… right!?
6. Admission to State Parks and other In-State Attractions
I’m not sure what other states offer, but to the best of my knowledge, all Michigan libraries offer a Michigan Activity Pass (MAP) that provides free or reduced-price access to hundreds of state parks, museums, exhibits, historical sites, and other attractions.
Of course, there are some stipulations, but it’s definitely something to check out if you’re looking for local activities to do with your family!
7. Magazines, Newspapers, and other Print Subscriptions
I honestly don’t have a burning desire to read magazines anymore — but sometimes I flip through them while I’m watching the kids play at the library. Other times, we’ll check out a few craft or cooking magazines just to try some of the projects and recipes at home.
Simon also recently discovered the comic book and kids’ magazine section — so that’s now his favorite place to hang out on our weekly library visits!
I realize magazines and newspapers are super important for some people, but the amount of money and clutter we have saved by canceling our subscriptions is CRAZY!
Yes I know, these are still “books” but so many people I know don’t think to check their library for cookbooks.
I have borrowed huge quantities of cookbooks over the years — especially recently as I’ve devoured everything I can find about cooking with whole grains, grinding grain, etc.
I usually only find 1 or 2 recipes I like from each cookbook, so I simply write them on a piece of paper and store them in my recipe box with a note from which book it came from. This way, I don’t need to keep 40 cookbooks on my shelves!
I could also take pictures of the recipes, but I prefer writing them down. 🙂
Our kids do not know this is an option yet… but our library has a full shelf of kid-friendly tablets with pre-loaded educational games, activities, books, etc. all revolving around one central topic (like animals, cars, weather, crafts, etc.)
I know Nora would be ready for something like this, but the boys are still too young and I don’t need it to start any “wars” at our house, so I haven’t introduced our kids to the tablets yet! Maybe if we take a long road trip in the future!
10. Tax Documentation
We pay our accountant to do our taxes, but I know our library offers many different tax forms, documents, and information to help people file their own taxes.
Definitely something to check into before you go out and buy your own tax software.
11. College Admission Test Prep
Do you have a high school student preparing for the ACT, SAT, or another college entrance exam? Most libraries offer online materials to help you (and your student) prepare — and yes, it’s all free!
I also recently noticed our library offers materials to help prepare for a taking a high school GED test.
12. Event Tickets
Our library regular offers free (or super reduced price) tickets to local sporting events, local concerts, local events, and more.
These are usually on a first-come-first-served basis and are rarely advertised, so I have to ask about them.
Although we don’t use this perk often, we have gotten free tickets to a local minor league baseball game and a couple fun children’s events. I have a feeling we’ll use this more as the kids get older.
13. Online Courses
If you’re interested in learning a new skill, ask your local library how they can help.
Not only will they have countless books on the topic, they might even offer online courses… for FREE!
Michigan libraries have something they call “Learning Express Library”. Any card holder can create an online account and enroll in various free online courses like computer basics, Internet basics, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, MS Office tools, second languages, resume creation, job prep, and so much more!
Like I mentioned above… this is most definitely an “incomplete list”. I may continue to add to it as I learn more about what libraries offer!
Also, I’d love to know if YOUR library loans any unique, non-book items??
I’ve heard that some libraries loan out clothing, toys, and musical instruments!