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7 reasons to revisit your public library

You might be amazed at the things you can find -- for free -- at your local library. Books are just the beginning.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 24, 2013 12:10PM
This post comes from Angela Brandt at partner site Money Talks News.

MoneyTalksNews logoA library card might not come with a clever slogan like “Don’t leave home without it” or “What’s in your wallet?” but library membership has its privileges. Getting movies, magazines and Internet for free is priceless.

Visions of doing a book report in high school or gathering information via the Dewey Decimal System might be dancing through your head when you think of a library. There’s much more to be discovered or rediscovered at the more than 16,000 public libraries nationwide.

As Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson says in the video below, you’re already paying for these offerings with your taxes, so why not take advantage of them? Watch the video, and then read on to find out why you should dust off that library card.
About 53% of Americans reported visiting a library in the past 12 months, according to a poll by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Of those, 73% borrowed a print book.

1. A rainbow of reading
We all know books are available at every library. Magazines and newspapers are generally offered as well. But did you know many popular e-books can be checked out as well? The best part of that technology? No need to return so no risk of late fees. Some let you borrow e-readers too. But, you need to return those.

2. Wi-Free

Most libraries offer free Internet access. Some have desktop computers available, while others loan out laptops if you are without your own. Printers are usually offered as well. Whether you’re job seeking or catching up with old friends, this is a great option to save a few bucks on the cost of monthly Internet access.

“Three-fourths of public libraries offer software and other resources to help patrons create résumés and employment materials,” the American Library Association says.

Another cool part is that you can often avoid many pay walls for databases like LexisNexis, encyclopedias and genealogy programs. Of those Americans who said they visited a library, 46 percent reported that they used a search database.

3. That’s entertainment
Some larger institutions let you download music for free. Others offer compact discs to borrow. Either option, it’s a great way to get some new tunes or test out a band before shelling out the money to purchase the whole album.

Man wearing headphones looking at compact disc © Nico Hermann, Westend61, Getty ImagesPeruse the DVD section of your local library and you might be surprised by what you find. A friend of mine in San Diego was recently very pleased to find the television show “Walking Dead” available for checkout at the city library for free. The same establishment also offers all of the seasons of “The Wire,” which was recently named the best TV show ever by Entertainment Weekly.

4. Blast from the past
Libraries offer some things you can’t find elsewhere. One of these is old newspapers on microfilm. When I was a newspaper reporter, I would sometimes have to visit my local library to get information from decades past because the paper didn’t keep archives.

5. Staying for the course
Class offerings vary by location but can include everything from crafting ideas to cooking to yoga. Some libraries offer courses on topics that are usually pricey when they’re offered somewhere else, like SAT tutorials, foreign languages and tax preparation.

6. Social network
Many libraries host “Books and Babies” events weekly. It’s a chance for new parents to introduce their babies to reading and to other families. Programs designed for teens are also becoming increasingly popular.

Nearly half of library users brought their child to a class or other event, according to a Library Services in a Digital Age survey.

Book clubs are another way to meet other readers and socialize. Most institutions offer reading programs, especially during the summer.

7. A piece of quiet
Study rooms are a great option if you’re a teen working on a group project or someone who just needs some time to enjoy the sound of silence. There are generally sign-up sheets for special rooms, and some large libraries offer reservations.

Check out your local library and see what it has to offer. The Hillsboro Public Library near Portland, Ore., reports having 100 free things for cardholders to do.

More from Money Talks News:

10Comments
Jul 27, 2013 6:26AM
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Best deal in town, the public library.
Jul 27, 2013 5:31PM
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I also recommend you to visit your area public library. You'll find a lot of educational entertainment for you and your kids. A big variety of dvd and vhs movies for free. Programs to participate and much, much, much more.  Ahhh...  And the librarians are well educated people that will give you the treatment you deserve or not, but you'll get it. At least, the one in the sout side in Milwaukee is a very good example.

 

Jul 27, 2013 4:58PM
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i stayed somewhere recently and didnt have cable hooked up.  i went to our new library and they have everything listed above.  i thoroughly enjoyed taking out 10 dvd's at a time. i like foreign and they had a great selection.  now im hooked.  now i dont have to wait for one to come on cable now that im home.  i have also been taking out cd's too and syncing them. i love that i dont have to pay for them especially since i may only like a few songs. 
ive gotten many books that they sell too. usually for 25 cents to a dollar on a cart when you first walk in. 
and if they dont have what you want they can get it from another library in your county at least here in sarasota they do and then hold it for you.
Jul 27, 2013 1:19PM
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I don't buy books that I can read at the library because that's redundant and a waste of space I my home.

 

I find it sad that I must spend money to buy rare books to learn advanced information in some fields of study because the library doesn't have the books. Yet, I'm happy that the library doesn't carry the books I write, so people must spend money on my books.  

 

Sincerely,

The Hypocrite

Jul 27, 2013 11:17PM
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I go to the library every day because  I work there.
Jul 27, 2013 4:48PM
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All that and horribly rude workers - at least in Louisville KY
Jul 27, 2013 7:07AM
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The "free government libraries" are hardly free. Our very small local library, which I used to frequent, went to great length to computerize their system. Why? To track what you read and to make investigation that much easier. That is not my paranoia but some of the library staff's own admission. It is now possible to track when and where you were on internet; what kind of dastardly books you read; even what social networks you belong/go to. Oh, they got a "grant" to put in the "new" computerized system. It used to be a 4 digit number that was hand written....most of the time by first name...Oh well; That is progress!
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