If you’ve just been using your local library for books—or not using it at all—you’re missing out on a wealth of entertainment and money-saving life hacks. While every library system is different and yours may not have all of the perks listed below, if you poke around your library website, you might find even cooler stuff.
1. YOGA CLASSES
Many libraries have open rooms for public use. These rooms are often reserved for group meetings, workshops, and all kinds of free classes taught by members of the community.
2. E-BOOKS, AUDIO BOOKS, AND MAGAZINES
Need a new novel for your e-reader or an audio book for your commute? You probably don’t even have to get off the couch. Libraries now offer remote downloads of e-books, audiobooks, and even magazines.
3. FAMILY ACTIVITIES
Storytime? Check. Arts and crafts? Yep. Music? Games? Yes and yes. These free activities nourish kids’ creativity, let them socialize with others their age, and expend some of that excess energy.
4. DATABASE ACCESS
This may not seem like a big deal until you need to look something up, but then it will be a very big deal. Outside of universities, it can be hard to get your hands on a log-in for academic journals and other databases without shelling out a lot of money. But your library is just giving it away, and, once again, you may not even need to leave home to get access.
5. HELP GETTING A JOB
Whether you’ve been out of the work force for a while, are changing careers, or just need to beef up your résumé, the library may be the place to go. Check the library calendar to find classes, workshops, and even one-on-one assistance.
You know that show everybody keeps telling you to watch? How about that movie you meant to see in the theater last year? Your library’s probably got it. Sure, you could try to rent these things online, but those services cost money and often have gaps in their collections. If your library doesn’t have the DVD you want, another local library might, and you should be able to request it.
7. MOVIE NIGHTS
If you prefer to take in a flick in the company of others, the library can still help you out. Libraries screen new releases, classics, and even film-festival-type series all year long. Look for posters on your library’s bulletin board, or ask a librarian what’s coming up.
8. COMPUTER CLASSES
Maybe you never learned how to make a spreadsheet. Maybe your mom is driving you up a wall with her requests for tech assistance. For your sake and hers, take a look at the library calendar.
9. HELP WITH YOUR TAXES
There’s no question that tax forms are unnecessarily complicated. Even the smartest, most grown-up grownup can get tripped up in the process and end up underpaying or leaving money on the table. But you don’t have to go it alone, and you may not need to pay anyone for help. Beginning in late winter, many libraries offer free help with tax preparation.
10. READINGS AND TALKS
From big-name authors to underrated local treasures, library reading series are a terrific way to take in literature, learn something new, and meet other book lovers.
Yes, music! Depending on the library, you may be able to check out CDs, sheet music, or even digital downloads. This is a great risk-free way to try out an album and discover new artists.
All images courtesy of iStock.