January Money Diet Day #23 – Take a New Look at Your Library

Nashville Public Library

Nashville Public Library, Grand Reading Room

As you may know, libraries have evolved into places that do so much more than lend books. We live just a few blocks from a wonderful public library, and even though I go there at least two times a week I keep finding new offerings. Your neighborhood library can be a rich source of entertainment and education…and best of all, everything is free.

Just the basic process of checking out a book has evolved. If I’m interested in a book, I don’t even need to change out of my pajamas. I simply visit my library’s website and search the book title. Often, I can check out and instantly download an eBook. Otherwise, I can reserve a hard copy of the book and my library e-mails me when the book is ready to be picked up.  I also borrow movies, CDs and current magazines from my library.

From High Tech to Home Tech

A couple months ago, my son and I had the opportunity to experience the dizzying wonder of Google Glass firsthand, when a librarian had a pair of the smart eyeglasses for patrons to try. Currently, the library has a 3-D printer set up so that people can try making their own three-dimensional plastic objects. Our library also loans other high-tech gizmos like Nooks and Go-Pro cameras.

When my computer died a few years ago, I went to the library and used one of their free computers until mine was fixed. When my daughter was shopping for a used car, she borrowed Consumer Reports magazine and researched the most reliable makes and models. Our library offers a delightful kids’ library and a summer reading program that my son loves, free talks on a variety of subjects, meeting and study rooms, and regular art exhibits.

Last year our library partnered with our local power company to loan out portable power meters. We were able to borrow a meter to plug into home appliances and learn how much energy we’re using. You may want to check with your utility company or library to see if a similar lending program is in place.

Free Seeds to Grow Food

Some libraries even “lend” seeds to grow fruits and vegetables! Patrons borrow a packet of seeds, and at harvest time gather the seeds from the most robust produce and return those seeds so the library can lend them out to others.

The Basalt Library here in Colorado is doing such a program, and users report much success with the seeds they’re planting because they’ve already proved hardy in the mountain town’s short growing season. Some libraries are even lending gardening spades and shovels; the Oakland Public Library has 3500 tools for loan.

How About You?

Your challenge this weekend is to explore your public library and see what’s new. You could also visit your library district’s website and check out the online offerings. Be sure to let us know if discover something new and surprising at your library!

If you’re participating in Monday’s challenge to Give Stuff Away and Win a Money Book, be sure to list the stuff you give away by midnight Saturday night, 1/24/15!

Happy Friday and enjoy the weekend,

The signature for Eliza Cross

P.S.  You could win a deluxe Happy Simple Living gift box by participating in the January Money Diet. The box includes a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card, $25 cash, pantry staples like bean soup mix and organic quinoa, signed copies of three of my cookbooks, homesteading supplies like soap, candles and eco-friendly cleaning supplies, and much more.

At the end of January I’ll choose one winner from among everyone who comments–someone who has participated in this 31-day challenge with heart and soul and achieved good results. Good luck!


Photo:   Robert Claypool

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

January Money Diet Day #23 – Take a New Look at Your Library

  • Lisa Quenon

    I LOVE the library! I love that I can look online from home and reserve a book and then go pick it up. I love that I can renew a book from my home computer (so long as no one else is waiting for it). And I love that I can still use their copier for only 5 cents per copy!

  • Catherine Godfrey

    I love my local library it’s great. It’s small so it’s never crowed which I like. I have a nook e-reader & @ the end of 2013 I added up all the books I had purchased & the total was $480.00 I almost had a panic attack. I couldn’t believe that total. So I hit my local library & a second hand bookstore. I traded in lots of books & now have a hefty credit to use up. The $$ savings for 2014 was of course way lower I spent $22.00 on my nook. Convince in any form costs so much more.

  • Tricia

    I have only one book in my physical library. All the rest of my books are digital. How freeing it was to make this change. The thought of not having to pack a massive amount of books when we can finally move is a relief. I love the seed library idea. I’ve thought about trying to harvest my own seeds from one years crops for the next year’s crops.

  • Laura

    I love our library. I take my two boys there often for story time, we participate in kids programs there like reading 1000 books before kindergarten, and we like to rent free movies there too. I just found out that there is a drop in homework center there for kids to have a place to get help with homework and access a computer. There is also a program that let’s kids read to a reading education assistance dog. So cool. Also, I love to walk outdoors- one of my favorite things to do- and our library’s website had a whole list of walking trails with distances so you can plan a loop. There’s so much info about my city just on the library website!

  • Jennifer

    Two more bags off to be donated along with a carpet that I will never use! It feels so great to be able to look at items differently and set them free. It isn’t even noon yet so I am just getting started 🙂 Happy Decluttering Weekend!

  • Lisa F

    Our library participates in the Hoopla program, so we can download movies, cd’s and audiobooks for free! They also loan out tablets, give free passes to museums, loan out the electric appliance reader and give free classes. They have book clubs for all ages and I hear they are going to start a crafting club soon. I would love to knit and visit with new friends. Its a great way to socialize and be entertained. They have junk food vending machines, but I would be thrilled if they put in a coffee bar!

    Libraries definitely are not what they once were.

  • Cindy

    I am lucky enough to have 4 libraries (in 4 different districts) relatively close to my house, so I have a plethora of opportunities to get books. I also have slightly less convenient access to a fifth library district. I used to check out so many books from so many libraries that I would get confused about due dates and locations. Now I try to manage it by getting most of my physical books from just one library. My Kindle, however, is a different story. There, I can easily check out and return books from any of the five library districts.

    I was fairly familiar with many of the services offered at my local library – requesting books through inter-library loan, checking out DVDs and music CDs, borrowing audiobooks, attending programs, reserving meeting space, and checking out play-aways. These are audio books that are an all in one, small, convenient container that holds the book and the device to play the recording, so you don’t need a CD player. This is particularly wonderful if you’re traveling and want to listen to books.

    As a result of today’s blog, I decided to explore my library further. Just from my computer, I found these resources that I didn’t know about:
    • The Wire: resources for authors to help them get published
    • A cooking blog
    • Art Stop program for kids
    • Free on-line Access to the Wall Street Journal
    • Universal classes (on-line)
    • 1-1 Tech Tutoring
    • Free passes to local museums

  • Lynn Louise

    I have used our library consistently through the years. The kids participated in some of the activities when they were young and we all have checked out books, magazines, and other media. I love the magazine selection and the new books that they highlight in the special book section. Every summer they have a sale and get rid of books, magazines, and other items that are older. People can donate items to the sale. I take my old books and magazines. The library sets up tables with books that are $1, .50, and even .25 per book. You can get a whole years worth of reading for not much and then next year you can donate them right back to the library. It’s a great event!

  • Jennifer

    Ha ha! I just received an email from my library this morning. They are having several science, tech, engineering, and math workshops. They are free for the whole family and educational, too! I am excited to check them out for so great interactive entertainment which beats sitting in front of a tv any day. 🙂

  • Lois

    I haven’t checked out the library in my new town, that’s something I still need to do. For now I have been getting my reading from free ebooks for the Kindle app.

    I did do a bit of research on the library when I moved here, but not being a part of the metro area’s library system there isn’t much available, unlike your library.

    Years ago I used to borrow a VHS player from the library and movies when my boys and I wanted to watch one. That was a lovely perk and gave us an option for viewing movies at a time when money was tight and splurging on a VHS player was beyond our budget.

  • Lisa

    When my children were younger, we went to the library every week and brought home a large bag of books and movies. They were thrilled to go and be able to pick as many books as they wanted – the one time I could tell them yes, yes, yes! We participated in their summer reading program, play groups and special speakers. I still rely on the library to read books on a variety of topics, both e-books and paper, borrow magazines (a great money saver instead of all those subscriptions!) and I give back by donating my old books for their book room. Additionally, our library has a great collection of subscription online databases that include car repair manuals, scholarly research for school and work, and even practice standardized tests like the ACT and PRAXIS tests – all for free with my library card. If you can’t physically check out your library, look on their website and see what is available to you.

  • Georgina Bowie

    I’ve been using my local library for years, not just for books but also when I didn’t have any internet and needed to do some research. Obviously a great place to study as well. Recently it’s got a whole load of new movie in, all completely free to rent (apart from the documentaries, but they’re ridiculously cheap) so, as someone with no TV, I’ll be making use of those. Everyone should definitely use their library! If we don’t w’ll loose them and that would be such a shame.

  • SanDandy

    I use the library ALL the time!

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