Using the Library for Frugal Fun

I’m in love with the library. There. I’ve admitted it. I remember when I was growing up, going to the library was a huge deal. I looked forward to picking out books that would transport me to different worlds. Today I still love walking up and down the aisles of books, taking in the smell and enjoying the quiet.

But even though libraries are known mostly for the books they contain, they are so much more. They are a place for community, for learning, for growing.

So what can you do at the library? Well, that’s going to vary from community to community, of course, but here’s a sampling from my local library system. Those of you with bigger libraries will find even more.

Take Your Kids to Library Story Time

When Stargirl, my daughter, was a toddler, I remember taking her to library story time every week. The kids would listen to stories and sing silly songs. I still fondly remember “Shake Your Sillies Out”, the song they sang every week before the story telling began.

After story time, the kids would complete a simple craft. It was a great first introduction to the library for kids. It was also a much needed break for this mom of a toddler. I was able to meet and talk with other moms of toddlers. Those of you moms out there know how important adult conversation is to a mom of a toddler!

Learn a New Language

Our local library offers Mango, an online system for learning conversational foreign language. I haven’t tried it yet, but I think it might be fun to experiment with learning different languages.

Even if your library doesn’t offer something like Mango, there are probably resources you can check out to help you learn a different language. I did a search for “Learn Spanish” in my library database and came up with 90 results. “Learn Japanese” didn’t come up with quite as many, but it did include some great resources, such as Instant Immersion Japanese. My kids are interested in learning a foreign language next year, so we’ll probably start with library resources, before investing in a potentially expensive curriculum.

Attend a Lecture

Who says you need to be a college student to attend a lecture? And lectures at libraries tend to be free of charge! At least that’s how it works at our library.

Upcoming lectures in Jackson County, Oregon include “Understanding Islam,” “Life in Pakistan,” “From Xerxes to Alexander: Ancient Greece in War and Peace,” and a whole series on the history of Southern Oregon. Though my son is a little young for these lectures, I can see us incorporating some of them into our little homeschool someday. I think the history of Southern Oregon series would be especially interesting.

Enjoy Art Displays

Bigger libraries often have art displays in the foyers. I always love going to the main branch of our library to see what’s on display for the month. Sometimes it’s art. Sometimes it’s a fun collection. The display changes frequently, and it’s fun to stop and get the kids’ opinions about the month’s offering.

Even if your library doesn’t offer much, think outside the box. Do you want to start a book club? Ask the librarian if there’s a place you can put up a notice or announcement. I’ve found that libraries are a place of community, and if you have an idea that would benefit the community, why not share it?

Do you enjoy going to your library? Have you used the library for something other than checking out books? Please share!

Photo by Stewart.

15 thoughts on “Using the Library for Frugal Fun”

  1. I’m a huge fan of the library!

    I get book, DVDs, audiobooks, read magazines,use their internet access, borrow thing from other library via the intralibrary borrowing system, etc…

    IMHO, the library should be a cornerstone of anyone trying to live frugally, especially if one is close by!

    That said, I’ve never heard of “ Mango” before! I’ll have to check it out… I would like to refreshen up on the spanish classes I took in college :)

  2. I LOVE my library. Not only can a person search its site, reserve a book, and make intra-system transfers, but it also lets a person get books from the state U system (most times at no charge – it just takes a couple of weeks). And I get automatic email reminders when books come near due.

    Re: foreign languages, the Pimsleur method is excellent for adults wanting to speak a foreign language with proper grammar and pronounciation. It’s mostly audio, so children may become bored with it quickly. Many folks rave about Rosetta Stone; I’ve never checked it out myself, but it’s mixed media that may be more conducive to younger learners.

  3. I’m such a scattered reader (one might say my reading habits follow a manic-depressive cycle) that I end up with fines for half the things I take out of the library. I’ve been making use of the local used book store for my leisure reading and find that I end up paying about as much, with less stress over how long I can keep a volume in my possession (of course, I must be a more selective shopper at the store than at the library, for finance’s sake).

  4. You mentioned fun art collections. Check with your library. I know that our old library in Ohio used to let you check out paintings, prints just like you would books. My high school english teacher brought one in once a month for us to enjoy in the classroom. Love the post and the blog. Thanks!

  5. I’m living in Japan right now and this post made me cringe w/ jealousy! I never realized how attached I was to my local library until I had to live without it.

    Take advantage of everything they offer – great post!

    Austin @ Foreigner’s Finances

  6. Along with the programs, free materials, and museum passes already mentioned, our library occasionally has free vouchers available to local kids’ events. We recently were given three vouchers (worth $18 each!) to Sesame St. Live when we were at story time. I’ve seen circus tickets there, too. It never hurts to ask! We love our library!

  7. It is almost embarrassing how often I go to the library nowadays, but it is a wonderful resource… And now I’ve discovered the online reservation system, the fact that our branch is fairly small doesn’t matter, as I can call up books from elsewhere in the region. There is a small fee for this, but very little compared to giving up and buying the item instead… The library is also great for audio books for long car journeys, and as a place to read newspapers and magazines you don’t necessarily want to buy.

  8. We love the library! We’ve been going to story hour every week (mine are 4 and 6, ya know), and checking out TONS of books and movies. I’ve been getting all the books to supplement our homeschool studies each week, from the library. I try to go online a few days before we start each new lesson and find all the books I need. It’s so cool that if the local library doesn’t have it, they’ll ship it over from one of the other libraries in the county.

  9. We have always been members of our local library and we use its awesome resources. I wish I lived in Indianapolis which has one of the most beautiful libraries in my mind. It is even fun to just go there and hang out without using its tremendous resources. I was amazed about the breadth of literature available in Indianapolis. Truly amazing!

  10. The library is the best! We check out books and DVD’s weekly. We go to story time. We check out the bearded dragon lizard that our branch has as a pet. We participate in the summer reading program and earn fun prizes. Seriously, I am more than willing to pay taxes to support the library. I don’t even begrudge the occasional late fees we incur when we forget about a movie or something. Because I know that the fees are going to support the library. :)

  11. Classes on excel, word documents, powerpoint – all free.
    Puppet stage and puppet shows.
    Monday night at the movies – free including popcorn.
    Music, CD’s, books on tape, videos.
    Geneaology resources, microfiche newspapers, local obit
    Used book store. Free magazine giveaways at year end.
    Tax forms. Free wi-fi. Air conditioning in the hot summer heat. :)
    VERY helpful staff – at least at our library :)

  12. I love the library. Not only do I get tons of new music from the library, I am able to go online and reserve books/music/CDs that I want to check out. Once my branch recieves the selection, I just drive by and pick it up. In fact, I will be stopping by on my way home tonight.

    The branch near my parents house even has yoga classes!

  13. I LOVE our library. It costs us $65 a year on our taxes and I get more than my money’s worth out of it. Of course, most of our books come from there and DVDs and CDs, too. Plus I like to go and sit and look at all of the magazines that I refuse to buy.

    They also have a great kids, summer program and my daughter would hang out there taking classes in everything from beading to photography. I couldn’t see spending $500+ on a week of day camp when I was a stay at home mom. So this was a nice substitution, and it was totally FREE. They also would bring in live performers once a week i.e. dancers, musicians, Wild Care. It’s the only place that I’ve ever held a boa constrictor 8-)

    They also have free passes for some of the museums in our nearby city that you can call up and reserve. Not to mention movie nights and guest speakers.

    Yep, I love our local library.


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