I bet it’s at the library

I sent out a Really Short Email the other day.

It went something like this:

Whilst conducting a little experiment, I read nine personal finance and money management books since January 1st.

Decided to sit down and craft a budget for **the first time ever**.

Jeepers creepers – it’s not lookin’ too good.

The next day, I shared a link to my January book recap, and my friend Liz had a great question…

Where do you buy/rent your audio books?

The answer is (if you haven’t guessed from the title of this post) the library!

Here’s my love letter to my local library:

Is this real life?

In my twenties, I had a book problem. I’d buy any book that tickled my interests. I’d even buy books that I knew I’d never read. I would literally say that to myself during Amazon checkout, “Hmm… I’ll probably never read this book!”

But I’d click that purchase button anyways. I did this with records, CDs, video games. Anything physical. If I even remotely wanted it and I had the money in my bank account, I’d buy it.

Sure it’d sit on a shelf, but whatever, it was mine!

Fast forward to 2018. I have three kids, no space, no time, and no money. (Sounds depressing? It’s not. My kids are awesome.)

Buying stuff isn’t in the cards. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to stop consuming awesome books, watching great movies, or playing the latest games. I just ran out of funds and shelf space to own it all.

So, a few years back I thought, “I wonder if they have that (really cool new [blank] ) at the library.”

Sure enough, they did.

And this trend repeated itself with audiobooks, digital audiobooks, video games, music, etc.

It never stopped. Eventually, “I wonder if they have it…” turned into “I bet it’s at the library!”

Until one day. I tried to get a newer copy of Saga (an awesome Image comic) and they didn’t have it!?

But just underneath my search results I was prompted to Suggest a Purchase.

Can’t find it in our catalog? Submit this form to request that we purchase or borrow items we don’t currently own.

Wait a sec? I tell you that I want you to buy, and you just go buy it. That can’t be right.

It was right. It was so right. It was righteous.

A few weeks later, I received an email that Saga was ready to be picked up, and sure enough, I picked it up. For free.

The things you can get for free at the library

Here’s a brief and incomplete (but awesome) list of things I can access for free at my local library:

  • Books (…obviously) – Don’t have what I’m looking for? They can get it. At another branch? Reserve on-line pick up at my branch within a few days.
  • Movies – You probably know this, but it’s more than just a stack of old DVDs and VHS tapes. My local library has new releases, in Blu-ray format, with multiple copies to lend out. Like books, you can reserve them, request them, or have them transferred. Lend time is a week for me, and it’s 100% free with a library card.
  • Video games – So many games. All of the major consoles and handhelds. Save yourself the $60 you’ll drop on a new Switch title.
  • Digital audiobooks – I love audiobooks because I can plow through books during my commute, often at 1.5 or 2x speed. (I know, weird.) Audible¹  and the Audible app, in my opinion, are the gold standard in obtaining and listening to audiobooks, but it’s not without cost. The library offers free audiobooks through a variety of apps, like Hoopla and Oneclickdigital. Their websites and apps have come a long way in the past 4 or 5 years.
  • Physical audiobooks – Can’t find something digitally? It might exist physically. These are little booklets of 4-12 (sometimes more!) audio CDs. Sounds archaic, but if your car still has that unused CD player collecting dust mites, you’re in luck. My only problem with these is that you can’t 2x the speed.
  • Music – CDs… CDs everywhere! They’re so 90s. I love them. I miss them. Picking up a compact disc at the library and adding it to my car rotation of audiobook and radio listening is a fun endeavor, and I’ll just remind you, totally free. See what genres your library specializes in.
  • Lynda.com subscriptions – If your library offers this, please please please look into signing up. You can learn hundreds of new professional or life skills with the tutorial / course site Lynda.com. I learned how to fully code a WordPress theme using this complimentary service provided by my library. Their normal subscriptions cost $20-30 per month! If you are looking to level up at work, prepare for a career change, or simply take on a new hobby, this benefit is incredible.
  • Tons of stuff for kids – In addition to great in-house programs like story-time, structured play, and music performances, our library also offers a lot of online resources for kids. Not to mention, the music, movie, game, and book selections for kids are top notch.
  • So much more – Ancestry.com access, access to the New York Times, databases of academic journals and papers, it’s all there.

I live in a densely populated county in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Your results may vary, but if the last time you set foot in your local library was to rack up BookIt! slips for free personal pan pizzas in ’92, I highly recommend you head in to see what’s available.

You might find yourself spending less money, supporting your local community, and fueling healthy new learning habits (or just playing your video games for free, your choice!)

Where do you buy / rent your media? Have you taken advantage of your local library? Let me know in the comments.

Affiliate Link Disclosure:

1. The Audible link in this post is an Amazon Associates link, meaning that if you decide to make a purchase after clicking this link (at no extra cost to you) I'll receive a small commission. Learn more about my affiliate marketing disclosure.

Tom Tate

I'm a suburban polymath living just outside Philadelphia with my wonderful wife and three kids. Digital marketing nerd for a SaaS company by day. Rabid movie, music, game, and book consumer by morning, noon, and night. I share life hacks and learnings via email at Weekly Coffee. I also host Power Time Podcast, a Nintendo retrospective. Sometimes I write stuff. Most of the time, it's on the internet.