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We all know keeping ourselves occupied in downtime is important. Not only is it stimulating, fun, and gives us something to do, but it can also help keep mental health problems, like depression, at bay. With so many people needing to stick to a budget these days, too, libraries are the perfect haven for entertainment on a dime.
Just a few stats to get us started.
Did you know there are more public libraries in the United States than McDonald’s locations? I didn’t either, but with nearing 17,000 branches nationwide, there are a few thousand more libraries than there are McDonald’s. Over half the American population has a library card, and it’s said that the average American borrows eight books a year.
“Why are libraries so important? They’re dated and going out of fashion anyway.”
This thought is something that many folks have, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Libraries are amazing at keeping up with the times and are always growing and evolving. Almost 90% of public libraries offer free internet access to guests, and over 90% have resources to help people with finding jobs. Everything from resume building to interview tips and more is offered at your local library.
Libraries are also a great place for activities and programs for all ages, but I’ll get more into that later.
Borrowing physical books and more
When you think of a library, the first thing that comes to mind is books, right? Well, me too, and there’s a good reason for that. It is what a library is both known for and began with, right?
But, the catalog doesn’t stop at just books. Many libraries also carry magazines, newspapers, DVDs, CDs, audio books on CDs – and some have even started carrying video games! They truly do know how to keep up.
Virtual books and audio books
While I do love a good book (I am an avid reader after all), I sometimes struggle to find time to actually go to the library. That’s where Overdrive comes in! Overdrive is a phenomenal website and app for smartphones and tablets. I found out about Overdrive back when I was in college, and it has been my best friend ever since.
For all intents and purposes, Overdrive is basically a digital library connected to public libraries. All you need is a library card, and with a large number of public libraries in Canada and the USA connected, you can log in and start borrowing eBooks and audio books right to your phone or computer.
It is incredibly easy to use and works just like a library. Each book can only be checked out to one person at a time, and after the set time (usually three weeks), it is automatically returned, so you don’t even have to worry about late fees. Though it is totally possible to renew them for longer, as well as place a hold on a book that’s already checked out.
Internet and computers
Like I said previously, a majority of public libraries now offer free internet, and many even have computers you can use to browse the internet, check emails, pay bills, and anything you feel like using it for. With this capability, families with tight budgets can access things they may not have had otherwise.
I remember I spent one summer at the library for hours a day, often working on my online course and some projects. That’s hours of free internet and office space I received – and you can too – that only requires walking through a front door to access.
Clubs, events, and activities
Now, some of this is going to vary, with covid being what it is, but most, if not all, public libraries offer programs for people of all ages. Here are just some of the activities your local libraries might be offering;
- Kids arts and crafts programs
- 3D printing
- Programs to help find work
- Book clubs (for all ages!)
- Lego or robot building
- Events with authors (the first time I met my favorite author was at a public library!)
- Writing classes
- Classes or tutoring to help work technology
- Aid with filing taxes
- And many other programs geared towards everyone from toddlers to seniors.
A safe place
And last but certainly not least, public libraries are a safe place. Over the years, libraries have striven to better their communities and be a safe haven for all. When you walk through those doors, it doesn’t matter the color of your skin, your gender, your orientation, or your financial standing. A library will take you where you are at, help you where they can, and give you a peaceful environment where you don’t have to worry about judgment or bills you can’t afford.
There are endless possibilities
With libraries, there are a plethora of options for activities and things to do. They are absolutely fantastic and make an amazing resource and source of entertainment, especially if you’re on a budget. People may downplay libraries, but in my mind, there is nothing better than one of these beauties supporting their local community. Not sure where your closest library is? Go here to find it now!
Do you have a library card? What’s your favorite part about your local library? How do you use the library to save money? Share your thoughts in the comments.
About Chloe Morgan
Chloe Morgan grew up living with a tight budget. In her late teens and early 20’s all the lessons she’d learned started to slip, like it does for many college age students on their own for the first time, and with their first credit card. As she’s gotten older, she’s started to deal with the repercussions and has taken on a frugal way of living, keeping her costs low, as she pays off debt and saves for her future. Chloe lives in Northern Ontario, Canada, with her cute dog, Rhea.