A few months ago at my neighborhood ladies bible study, we learned some shocking news. One of our didn't realized that you really could still check books out of the public library for free. Crazy, right?
It all happened while we were discussing a book that one of us had read. M, our tech savvy, youngest member of the group who reads the Bible off her i-pad, piped up that the book was only $8.78 at Costco right now. I replied that since I'm notoriously cheap, I'd rather check it out from the library, where it's free. The rest of the conversation went something like this:
M: Shut up! The library is still around?!
me: Uh ... yes.
M: SHUT UP!!! And it's free?!?!
me: Uh ... yes.
M: Shut up! I've seen them on tv and stuff, but I didn't realize they were still around!
me: You can reserve books online now and even check out more than one book at a time. They even have a free app for e-books and audiobooks!
M: Shut up! So it's like Netflix ... for books ... only free? WHAT??
We spent the next several minutes laughing hysterically and explaining the intricacies of the library system to her. We heard the phrase "Shut up!" (used in the Mean Girls tense) numerous times. One of us almost convinced her that there was a $5 monthly fee that she could collect and pay on her behalf, but we didn't let her fall for it.
My local library system is awesome. They have an extensive collection, with just about any title you could ever want. And if they don't have it, they'll borrow it from another county's library. They offer audio books and even e-books for your tablet or your phone through the Overdrive/Libby App. I can request a book online or through a FREE app on my smartphone and they'll e-mail me when it's ready. We regularly attend the free Storytime, where they often have puppet shows and crafts for the kids. The one we like to visit is located in the same building as the local cultural center, where they host tons of great free family events, like concerts, puppet shows, and movies for mom's with small children (AKA: it's ok to bring your noisy, wiggly preschooler to this showing of these movies). For a very reasonable price, they have all sorts other events like comedy shows and plays. They also offer classes for all ages on topics like cooking and dance and pottery. Seriously, it's awesome.
You can save some serious entertainment moola by checking up on what you're local library/cultural center has to offer. It's usually way more than you every realized. We visit there so much that my kids act like seeing the storytime lady is spotting a celebrity. (I'm always surprised they don't ask for Miss Megan's autograph).
I honestly was shocked that my friend didn't know what all the library had to offer. But that's par for the course with her, just the other day, she told me I'd changed her life by introducing her to crockpot liners.
(originally posted in 2012, updated in 2018)