Public libraries are veritable treasure troves of knowledge. Think about all that information, free for any citizen! Hard-copy books can be borrowed, and electronic books can be checked out on ereaders, but there is much more to a public library than just these options.

In fact, for a couponer, a public library can contribute to a whole new world of couponing bliss.

Here are some non-traditional ideas for using public library facilities to help make you a more effective, successful couponer.

Printing coupons

With online coupon limits from manufacturers sometimes set at one or two per computer, a Krazy Coupon Lady needs an additional outlet for printing coupons. Public library computers can serve that function. Print the desired number of coupons by using multiple available computers. Note: If the site requires coupon software — like Coupon Printer for Windows — make sure it's installed before attempting to print. If it is not, ask a library employee about downloading it. Also, most libraries charge for print copies (the rate at mine is $0.10 per page), so weigh the cost of printing multiples with the monetary benefit they provide through discounted products.

Patrons’ personal requests

We all know we can check out books we find in the library, but what happens when there's a book we want to read that's not available there? Public libraries offer interlibrary loans (a book that is unavailable at your local library is sent from another library so you can check it out from your branch) and patron request for purchase (patrons can request that their library purchase a copy of a book to keep in its collection . . . my local library did this with “Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey!”). Both interlibrary loan and patron request options provide opportunities for you to read/have access to any book, including those that educate people on couponing and creating a budget. If the library doesn't have a broad finance section or if there's a certain Suze Orman or Dave Ramsey book on your reading list, don’t buy it! Get it through the library absolutely free.

Coupon depository/exchange

If you want a no-cost way to exchange coupons, consider a coupon exchange that could be arranged at the library. The exchange could be something as simple as an honor system shoebox set in the library lobby for depositing/taking unwanted coupons or something as organized as a coupon swap in a conference room on the first Sunday afternoon of the month. Either way, it’s a chance to discover a new source for coupons and meet some other KCLs in the process!

Discarded periodicals

Public libraries archive certain periodicals (magazines, newspapers, and journals) and throw away others. Even those which are archived are often scanned or digitally kept, and the hard copy ends up being recycled or thrown in the trash. Ask library personnel what happens to unwanted copies. You may be able to score back issues of the coupon-heavy “All You” magazine, various magazines with coupon inserts (like “Better Homes & Gardens” or “Good Housekeeping”) or magazines that offer special offers and sweepstakes. Get free financial advice through back issues of the local newspaper's business section, Kiplinger's Personal Finance, or the Wall Street Journal. In a cooking slump? Grab an old “Taste of Home” or “Every Day with Rachael Ray.” Hint: Expand a search by visiting the public school's library or the library at a local college.

Used books

Just as periodicals get culled, so too do books from a library's collection. Most have an annual book sale where used books can be bought for pennies on the dollar. At my local library, an annual book sale happens in the spring and is sponsored by a "Friends of the Library" group. But the big score doesn’t just happen with old library books. Books brought in by other patrons offer something for everyone. Kids' paperbacks sell for a quarter, cookbooks for $0.50 cents. It's hard to ignore such bargains! I've also bought many nearly-new books to keep as gifts for others.

Since public libraries serve their communities, all citizens should be able to benefit from their services. Let us know in the "comments" section below if your library offers any unique services for its local population!

 This has been a guest post by Audrey from Texas
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