When you’re trying to get out of debt and making what seems like pennies, entertainment is one of those non-essentials that gets cut out of the budget. After Mike lost hours at work, we had to revisit our monthly budget, and our tiny entertainment fund got the boot.
Mike and I have always been fans of the library. We both have great memories as kids of going to the library for story hour and coming home with stacks of books to read. As a babysitter in my teens, I discovered that the library is a great place to take little kids on days when everyone just needed to get out of the house for an afternoon. When Mike and I got married and moved, we got cards to our local library and would periodically get books or DVDs out.
But now that we have no entertainment budget, we have become serious library lovers. And here is why:
Free Internet Access
We have wi-fi free at our house now, thanks to our generous landlord, but that was not always the case. For the first year or so of our marriage Mike and I would frequently spend an afternoon at the library checking emails and browsing the internet. It’s free to sign up for an account to use one of the library’s computers, or you can just use your own laptop. The only downside is that sometimes the connection is slower if you need to do some up or downloading, and you can’t do any of that stuff on the library’s computers.
The library gets more magazine titles than I even knew existed. We’ve discovered some fun ones- like “Dream Kitchen Magazine” (a girl can dream can’t she?) Recent issues have to stay in the library, but you can take home any past issues. We’ve used them as great resources for things like decoration ideas, learning photography tips, and getting inspiration for the kitchen.
Music+Books on CD
Mike has been a bigger fan of this aspect than I. He’s been able to find some fun new music by taking home CDs to put on the computer and enjoy. He also “read” The Count of Monte Cristo by checking it out on CD and listening to it while running machines at work through his iPod. We also checked out a whole stack of books on CDs for a long car trip last spring. It’s a great way to pass the time!
Seriously, even if we had an entertainment budget, I would never ever pay to rent a DVD again. Our library gets new DVDs the same time Blockbuster does, and you can rent them for free for two nights. We’ve enjoyed a whole host of movies recently, both old and new, thanks to our local library. In fact, just last night we enjoyed the movie Millions. Two nights ago it was Matchstick Men. And besides major motion pictures, you can also find educational DVDs, TV shows, and documentaries. And I’m sure that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
This is an obvious one, but we really have branched out from just checking out novels recently. Mike taught himself web design just by checking books out of the library and spending hours in the study alcoves reading them and watching tutorials online. I have learned a few new tricks in the kitchen by checking out cookbooks. When Olivia was having trouble sleeping on her own, I checked out this HUGE stack of books to read, and I finally found a solution. This was a lot easier, actually, than doing a web search because I just couldn’t find the depth I needed online. The library is where i got Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. The library is a great resource for deciding if you like a book before you buy it. I’ve even heard of people getting their textbooks through the library and avoiding exorbitant prices at the bookstore.
We have loved going to the Saturday morning story hour with Olivia. She loves watching all of the other kids and “dancing” along to the songs they sing. Story hour has become a fun family tradition! Also, although we haven’t done any of these, I know there are a whole ton of fun lectures and events that the library regularly hosts. Things like “Doggie Days” when there is a festival out in the parking lot and you can bring your pet dog, or a lecture series about how to start your own business, to a lock-in for local teens… the library’s calendar always seems to have some interesting events scheduled. And they are always free. 🙂
How about you? Do you have an AWESOME local library? Have you found any great resources there that you use regularly? I would love to hear why you love your library. 🙂