We all know you can borrow books and use computers for free at the library, but the reality is, your library card can get you so much more. Don’t believe us? We found plenty of free items at the library that can save you big.
Note: Remember, check with your local branch first to see if they offer a specific program or service you’re interested in.
1. Get free passes to a local museum.
2. Check out a telescope for night-sky viewing.
The St. Louis Astronomical Society has 88 telescopes to check out through its program. The Gorham Public Library allows you to take a telescope home for a week. Borrowing a telescope from the library is becoming more and more popular, thanks to Telescopes for Libraries‘ goal of supplying easy-to-use telescopes to every public library in America.
3. Find out about your family’s ancestry.
The West Fargo Public Library and West Florida Public Library System have subscriptions to genealogy websites and archives that are free for library cardholders. If your library doesn’t have easy-to-access genealogy resources, try asking a librarian who is trained in research to help you find the right tools.
4. Borrow household tools from the tool library.
Tool libraries are popping up all over the country. Sometimes they’re linked to municipal libraries, and sometimes they’re independent. It’s a great option when you only need to use the tool once. Check this list for a tool library near you.
5. Charge your electric car.
Many libraries are adding charging stations to their repertoire—from Meriden Public Library in Vermont to Tigard City Library in Oregon. Charges are free and stations are available during library hours. Use this site to see if you can charge your car at a local library.
6. Learn another language.
With so many language programs out there, you’ll be speaking French, Spanish, or Chinese in no time. Many libraries like the Toledo Lucas County Public Library and Montclair Public Library offer the popular program Mango for free, which would normally cost you $20 a month if you bought the program on your own.
7. Take ACT and SAT prep classes.
Libraries like the San Francisco Public Library and the Newark Public Library help students with their college applications, their personal statements, and provide college essay writing workshops. While these classes are available across the country, call your local library or check this site to find free classes near you.
8. Get access to financial resources.
The Los Angeles Public Library has a program featuring financial events and online tools covering savings, credit, investments, budgeting, financial planning, and consumer protection. The Multnomah County Library has money tools for the different stages of life. Ask the reference desk at your local library what financial tools they offer.
9. Borrow video games, board games, and movies.
You may never pay for entertainment again. According to this calculator, you can save $12 when you borrow 3 movies from a library. Imagine how much you can save over the course of a year!
10. Attend basic computer skills classes.
The Nampa Public Library teaches classes on basic computer skills, and basic Word and Excel classes. Arlington Public Library offers computer training, and you don’t even need a library card to attend.
11. Book a meeting room for your event.
Many libraries like the Boise Public Library and the Tulsa City County Library have rooms that library cardholders can book—saving you as much as $50 compared to booking elsewhere. Check ahead since some libraries only allow reservations for recreational or nonprofit endeavors.
12. Get help with a resume and attend career development classes.
Seattle Public Library offers career development classes at its various branches. The Bronx Library Center helps job seekers write their resumes. Your local library’s resource desk can give insight on what free job-related resources are available to you.
13. Borrow eBooks.
For those who have crossed over from print to electronic book reading, you can now borrow eBooks at libraries like the SiouxLand Library or the Monroe County Public Library. However, before you head out and buy yourself a Kindle, check with your library first or head to OpenLibrary.com.
14. Have books and other resources delivered to you.
Libraries like Missoula Public Library and the City of Crete Public Library deliver books and other resources on a regular basis for those who can’t easily travel to their local libraries. Their programs are similar to the popular Library on Wheels programs around the country. Check the American Library Association to see how many bookmobiles are in your state.
15. Get help from professional researchers.
Librarians are trained in the art of research. If you’re having trouble finding information online, it may be worth a visit to your local library where a librarian will know about publications, databases, and other resources you might not have thought of.