I’ve always loved books and movies. As a child I would go in a closet, turn on the light with a pull-string and sit and read for hours. I look around my house now and see bookcases, cabinets and plastic storage boxes full of books, VHS movies and DVDs, although I’ve purged some to reduce clutter. My habits have changed though and I’ve become a big advocate of saving money and space by buying less and borrowing more from the library.
If you have followed me on twitter you’ve probably heard me rave about my local library – the King County Library System. It was named Library of the Year on June 7, 2011. Seattle has a fantastic library system also, but I am most familiar with the @kcls branch near my house. We are fortunate here in our library offerings but they are dealing with cut-backs like many public services.
Back in the BC years – before child – I went to the movie theater weekly. When I became a parent this opportunity dwindled to once per month when daycare offered a monthly Friday night out for parents. To fill the void I bought more movies, became a user of video/DVD rental stores and later joined netflix. During this time I also discovered that I could reserve almost any book, CD or DVD/tape from the library online and get an e-mail when it was available. My library usage also picked up due to weekly visits with my daughter to find a fresh variety of books and kid-friendly shows for her.
Now I keep a list when I hear about new releases, get a recommendation or read a great review. I go to my library account online and reserve them with a hold. The system tells me how many copies are currently being lent or are on order and where I am in line to get my copy. New items become available to reserve when the library orders them. For popular new releases there can be a wait, but you can monitor your spot as you move to the front of the list. Tip: If you jump on the list before the item is even in the library, you can be closer to the front of the line. DVDs are loaned for a week at a time, but most items have a three-week loan period. Renewals are available online as long as there are not others waiting for the item on hold.
My favorite things to reserve are books on CD for my daily commute. Some are fiction I choose for pleasure, some are my “rolling university” of nonfiction resources on business, social media, finance and biographies. Frankly, these are books I rarely have time to sit down and read cover to cover. I also check out many how-to technology books because the most current editions are quickly available. Some are books I later go on to purchase for my home library.
Another service many may not be aware that libraries offer are digital downloads. Our library lends over 15,000 eBook titles compatible with various eReader, tablet, phone, MP3 and computer formats, including the iPad, Android, Nook and Sony reader. No computer or printer at home? Our library offers computers to reserve and free wifi.
All these services are free by applying for an account. Property taxes support library funding. You can still get a traditional library card or a tiny one that fits on your key chain. Kids love having their own library card. Give them a life-long love of reading.
If you’re impatient for a book or movie you can still buy it or use another online service. But you might consider checking out your local library and save a little money.
Even in this digital age, you can hold a real, bound book in your hand, for free.
Do you use your local library to save money? What’s your favorite service the library offers?
All my best,