Day 21 of the January Money Diet – Check Out Your Library

Nashville Public Library

Nashville Public Library, Grand Reading Room

Dear Friends,

Yesterday we experienced a glitch with the e-mail server. If you subscribe to Happy Simple Living and didn’t receive an e-mail yesterday, you can access the post here:  Day 20 – A Foolproof Way to Cut Spending. I apologize for any inconvenience.

Today’s challenge is to plan a visit to your local library. 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 we visit every 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 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!


The signature for Eliza Cross





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.

Day 21 of the January Money Diet – Check Out Your Library

  • Elizabeth

    I’m a public librarian, so I have this covered. 🙂

  • Kim

    Our library is on facebook. Can always check there for upcoming event, times. Offer movies once a month. Also have a pinterest club.

  • Betty

    Our library offers free tickets to local museums, computer classes, and Bookclub Bags–10 copies of one of 50 titles, which can be checked out for 6 weeks, all in a sturdy canvas bag–in addition to the other benefits already mentioned.

  • Lynn Louise

    We live in a very small town. We have books, magazines, computers, summer reading programs, and free CD’s. Not sure about a GoPro camera. But I will ask. I don’t use the library as much as I use to when the kids were younger. Then we were there every week but now I am working so much that I barely have time to read my book and return it before it’s past due. Our library is planning on expanding in the next few years and I’m sure when they have more space they’ll be able to offer even more resources. Looking forward to it and having the time to enjoy it.

  • Lynette

    We are regular users of our library, it is a great resource and yes it is slowly evolving over the last few years I look forward to its continued development.

  • In my neighborhood the “library” is a 200 square foot room in a community center – but as you point out, it sorta doesn’t matter these days. Well, for my purpose anyhow – it would be great for the neighborhood kids to have a bigger space because they only have 2 computers and there’s always a line.

    Anyhow, I have yet to embrace the whole eReader thing, though CatMan loves Kindle. I don’t read much, because I’m lazy and not good at it – so I generally let him read out loud to me, but I LOVE checking out movies, and I had NO IDEA one could borrow a GoPro or any of that other stuff. I’ll have to do some further research!

  • Emilia

    My husband is with my daughter at the library as I type. Thanks for sharing all of these great library tips. Libraries are definitely not what they used to be!

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