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I will admit it, I use to think libraries were just for books. After all, that is the first thing that catches your eye when you walk into one: rows and rows of books. And while the sight of thousands of books is enough to make my heart pitter-patter, what is even more exciting is the many other offerings your local library has for you just for the asking. Here are a few free or inexpensive services and programs that may be available at your local library!

Daily Newspapers, local and national. Libraries offer a variety of daily newspapers including the coveted Sunday paper. Your library may even allow you to take day old copies (and coupons!) home with you. Please ask first.

Inexpensive Book Sales. Libraries will often sell their overstock or used books for just pennies. This is a great way to pick up children’s books for your home library, books and magazines for yourself, or materials to donate inexpensively to local shelters. Everyone can use a good book!

Special Interest Clubs. Ask your librarian if any special interest clubs are held at your library. Garden clubs, reading clubs, even coupon clubs may be held once a month. These are a great way to network, get free information, and just have a good time. Book clubs for kids are often available as well and a chance for them to earn free rewards for their reading efforts.

Toy Rental. Many libraries offer free checkout of educational toys, games and puzzles. Why not surprise your child with a new-to-them toy to explore?

Audio and Visual Rental. Video games, DVDs, CDs, and computer games are all available at libraries. Books on CD are a great treat for  children in the car! Items for children are typically free of charge, as are audio rentals. DVDs for adults will have a nominal fee, usually less than $1 per day. All of these options are a great way to rotate your audio and visual entertainment and try something new!

Tickets. Many libraries offer free tickets to local museums if you just ask. Tickets may only be available to use during certain days of the week, but for free, you can afford to be flexible!

Book Readings. Guest authors often visit to read excerpts from their books. Poetry readings and children’s book readings are all a free and entertaining way to enjoy literature!

Computer Classes. Why not ask your library if they offer free technology classes? Many do! In addition to these free classes, laptops are often available for on-site checkout: perfect to snuggle up with and explore  the KCL website!

Tutoring. During the school year, college students often volunteer at libraries a few hours a week to offer free tutoring. With tutors running upwards of $30 an hour, this is an excellent deal.

Craft Time for Kids. Libraries may hold a special day each week just for kids where a read-aloud is held accompanied by a craft. These are often free and are a great way to meet other moms while your child experiences some great literature!

These are just a few of the many wonderful benefits your library may have to offer! Taking advantage of these offers can save you some serious dough and expand your horizons. Not sure where a library is in your town? Use this site to find one fast! It lists all of the libraries categorized by states for easy searching. Once you have found a library in your area, you can click on the link and be directed to their own website. Websites will display many of the special offers that library has available as well as a calendar of events.

So what are you waiting for? Your local library is waiting for you!

This has been a guest post by Katie from South Bend, IN
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