Updated on 02.17.07

5 Ways Your Local Library Can Transform Your Life Without Even Checking Out A Book

Trent Hamm

A good local library is worth its weight in gold. It’s a place where you can check out thousands of books for free and read them to your heart’s content. Yet most libraries offer much, much more than that also for free. Here are five ways I use my local library for valuable things without spending a dime.

Learn a foreign language I don’t have much free time, but my local library has available enormous selections of books on tape for learning a foreign language (my actual interest is learning conversational Mandarin Chinese, which is coming along slowly). All you have to do is check them out. For example, the Mandarin course has six sections, each composed of 24 (!) cassette tapes. I just load them up in my tape player and listen to them on my way to work and my way home, where I’m alone and can practice saying the phrases aloud. I can get through a tape in roughly two days, so I just have to renew the set a time or two and it’s good.

Meet interesting people The local library is a great place to organize and find special interest groups, mostly because of the diversity of information available there. Stop in and check out one of their calendars of events and get involved in something. This summer, we’re going to get my son involved in the toddler reading group, where parents of toddlers get together and take turns watching the kids and reading them stories.

Use the internet Almost all libraries have internet terminals, and my local one just added wireless throughout the building. I go find a quiet table there and am able to get a lot of research done, both book and internet at the same time, and this enables me to get a lot of writing done, too.

Find out what’s happening in the community Many libraries have a community bulletin board where people post all kinds of things, from houses and autos for sale to notices of auctions and concerts in the park. You can find all sorts of interesting things on the community bulletin board.

Find a movie to watch without paying those Netflix or Blockbuster fees. Why pay money to rent a movie when your local library has a ton of films that you can check out? Thanks to my local library, I’m discovering a ton of great older films of all kinds … before this, I had never seen Scarface.

Loading Disqus Comments ...
Loading Facebook Comments ...
  1. Alys says:

    Thank you so much for this post! As a 30-something single female, I’ve had a hard time meeting new people. In looking at my local libraries, I’ve found lots of book discussion groups, and monthly movies!

  2. I’ve just recently re-discovered my local library, and i must say that it’s refreshing to see that quality books can be available for FREE. Much cheaper than purchasing new books all the time.


  3. I know it’s a catchy title and all, but I’d hardly consider free movie rentals to be life-transforming. Story time for the kids is a great thing, though.

  4. Mike C says:

    Great information. Now a question… how could you make it this far in your life without seeing Scarface?

    “Say hello to my little friend”

  5. Lori says:

    Thank you for a valuable educational site.

    I hope that you have some native Chinese speakers in your life to help with learning Mandarin Chinese. I thought I was learning it from tapes during a summer vacation, but when I got back to school I found out from Chinese students that I was making extreme mistakes. I think that its being a tonal language makes it very difficult to learn without feedback from native speakers.

  6. Oleg says:

    I love that you caught on to using the library to save money. Most people don’t realize that many of the hardcover books they shell out 20-40$ for, read and then stack on their shelves are available for free to check out, and in the Los Angeles Public Library system keep for up to 9 weeks(3 renewals of 3 weeks).

    Films too, LAPL allows documentaries to go for 7 days, while fiction DVDs for 2 days. That may not be enough for busy people, but it’s great over the weekend.

    Thanks for the post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *