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10 Library Freebies you Might Not have Known (or Forgot) About

Last updated by on January 3, 2014

Libraries and Personal Finance go Hand-in-Hand

Every community needs a good library. And every good personal financier needs a library card. If you haven’t been to the library since you were a kid, they’ve changed a lot. Sure, they are still loaded with books (which is never a bad thing), but with some of the newer offerings at libraries, it might just be time to get re-acquainted. Books are just a small part of the free value you can get from your library these days.

Not all libraries are created equal, so if your library doesn’t have the same materials or services that I’ve listed below, you can always pose the idea to them. If your library offers something mine doesn’t, please share! If you’re using your library to its fullest extent, not only are you saving hundreds a year, but you’re probably enriching your life at the same time.


1. Books-On Demand

Yes, the library has books. Lots of them, in fact. And in checking them out vs. buying them online or in the store, you are saving a ton of money. But what many people don’t realize is that you can also request that your library order books that you want to read that they don’t presently carry. Most libraries have a budget for this very purpose. So save the money you were going to throw at Amazon, and see if your local library will order it for you. You might have to wait a bit longer for them to come in, but I’m sure you’ll find something else to do in the meantime.

Besides, book clutter just plain sucks.

2. Audio Books

Whenever my wife and I take a road trip over a few hours, we always stop by the library to pick up an audio book. We consider ourselves lucky if we find one that we’ve been meaning to read, but usually at least find one that is appealing to us. You can also pick up audio books for your commute, which is perfect if you never seem to find the time to actually sit down and read books.

3. CD’s

Sure, cd’s are becoming obsolete as a medium in the age of digital music downloads and free-streaming, but there are a few of us who still don’t own an ipod. And free is always better than a $1.29 download per song.

4. DVD’s

My local library has a free DVD selection that would make any Blockbuster (if they still exist) envious. Not only do they have a great selection of the latest movies to hit DVD, but they also have a large number of television seasons on DVD. If you’re trying to drop the cable subscription, your library can be your go to source for the shows that you feel like you can’t live without.

5. Museum & Other Local Attraction Passes

Now we’re starting to get into the weird stuff that you are much more likely to not have known about. It is fairly common for libraries to have free passes to local museums and attractions that you usually have to pay for. Some you have to rent, others you don’t. My library even has a one day pass to state parks that you usually have to pay a $6 admission for. Good stuff.

6. Author Series & Celebrity Speaking Events

My local library has brought in a number of great authors and other speakers. I’ve attended 4 of these events in the last year. A recent speaker was David Alan Grier, of In Living Color fame.

7. Free Internet

Most libraries have some sort of free wifi hotspot access available. Some might have computers, some have wi-fi, and others have both. This is a great way to change up your scenery if you’re feeling less than productive at home. It’s also a great way to get internet access in locales that you are visiting if you don’t have it in your hotel, for example.

8. Hobby Tutorials and Work-Skills Trainings

From digital photography to computer classes, art, cooking, and more – many libraries are offering an array of enriching classes for you that are free to take.

9. Magazines

I still have magazine subscriptions to a few of my favorite magazines, but if you love a particular magazine, most libraries will have a wide array of back issues that you can dive into on a lazy day. It’s also a great way to explore whether or not you like a magazine’s content before subscribing to it.

10. Your Next Date

Seriously, it’s better than finding a wild one at the bar when you’re drunk (well, at least for long-term prospects).

Closing Thoughts on Libraries

Check out your local library’s website to find events, services, and and materials that you might not have known about. And then go spend a Sunday afternoon there. You might just enjoy it. And you’ll surely save some money.

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About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 10,000+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.

  • philip says:

    I like #2. I have been downloading their audiobooks and listening to them on my 30 minutes commute for about 2 months now. Makes me look forward to the drive to and from work a little bit, and I will take anything that helps. Have a long drive this coming weekend but others going with me that would not be as keen on listening to a book the whole way I am afraid, might should grab a spare book just in case.

  • Erica says:

    Don’t forget – many libraries also offer and Live Homework Help. That’s free homework and career resources, all accessible with a library card. You can even connect to a homework or career tutor for live, one-to-one help.

    (Full Disclosure: I work for

  • Joe says:

    The LA public library actually has literacy tutoring programs for adults. I’ve checked out DVDs from the library, but the scratches made them difficult to watch. Not unplayable, but they did skip quite a bit in certain spots.

  • Nicole says:

    This aspiring librarian would like to thank you for showing some love to the libraries! With the “not all libraries are created equal” caveat in mind, I know that many libraries (perhaps especially those in larger cities) subscribe to online language learning software. The central library here has a language lab, but the software is also accessible from home with your library barcode and password.

  • Corky says:

    Libraries are also a great resource for travel guide books and maps when planning vacations.

  • Love this post! I recently moved to my city’s downtown area and one of the first things I HAD to do was get a new library card. I’m so excited.

    PS: I just stumbled upon your site off and am getting lost in it. Well done.

  • mh says:

    In the county that I live in, our library has a really great program called Mango Languages. You use your library card number and password on the library website to log in and you can access the online language learning program in a variety of different languages. I’ve tried the first few lessons in Spanish and it’s pretty neat. It’s worth looking into seeing if your local library has it, it’s a nice free way to start learning a language.

  • Debra B says:

    Libraries are now starting to have ebooks available for download. You have to listen to it within a period of time, but it is free. Just check your libraries website to see if they are availalble.

    Mylibrary belongs to an assocation at the state(Michigan) level and I can locate books online at other libraries in the state and request it. It will be delivered to my library. Increases my chance of finding a book I would like to read.

    Through my libraries website I have access to research websites, like morningstar, that you normally would have to buy a membership to.

  • Ryan says:

    The idea of self destruction is quite ambiguous to implement. I really can’t buy people deleting the stuff after use. Some sction should be though for these materials, like making them package based with expiry key..Just my two cents


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