In 2005, when we moved to our small subdivision, we decided to visit our local library to check out a few books. At checkout with our books in hand, we told the librarian we needed to get a library card, and that we were new to the area. Here is how our conversation went.
Librarian: “Can I have your address?”
Charlie: “Sure. It is 123 Main St.”
Librarian: “Give me one second, and I need to check our records, if you are part of our county.”
Charlie: (I had this smug look on my face that I knew I was already part of our county! HA!)
Librarian: “Sir. According to our records your subdivision hasn't been annexed into the county yet, and is still part of a SID. Unfortunately, at this time you can't be a member unless you pay a $25 fee.”
Charlie: (The complete demeanor on my face dropped, and I felt taken advantage of.)
Charlie: “Can you check your records again? I know I'm part of the county.”
Librarian: “Nope. See here…your address street isn't listed. Sorry.”
Charlie: “Are you kidding me? I pay $4500 per year in property taxes, and the county wants another $25 from me to use my local library. No thanks!”
I left the books on the counter and walked out cursing under my breath. Thinking to myself, who does lady think she is? This is America! I pay my taxes, and gosh darn it I should have the right to use my library for free! Clearly, my frugality helps fuel my pride when I feel like I should be getting something for free!
With all that said, after a year trying to swallow my frugal pride, I came back to the library, and paid the $25 fee to use my library for one year. Over that year I quickly realized how foolish I was to let a measly $25 get in the way of me saving a lot more money, and the chance for my family to read some great books! In the eight years since then I've come up with a list of ways in which I think my local library helps save my family money, and will gladly pay their fees (within reason!).
- Books! Books! Books! – the amount of books my family of five goes through in a year would probably be about $1000 retail if I were to buy everyone of them. Easily this is the biggest savings we see in using the library, and it helps fuel our minds!
- Movies – our library has a limit of five DVD's per week can be checked out. If you were to extrapolate the math out, then 5 DVDs/week *$15/DVD * 52 weeks would equal $3900!! So I know everyone doesn't buy every single dvd, so let's say you wanted to get rid of netflix streaming and just use your local library. That is still a savings of $108/year!
- CD – DVD's and CD's are treated the same at my local library, so the same savings could be seen versus buying your CD's or purchasing them for $1.29/song on iTunes!
- Internet Access – at my library they offer free internet access for up to 30 minutes (not typical at every library). If you were looking at cutting internet completely from your home, then this could be a savings of about $600/year ($50/month * 12). For a lot of people this might be a big inconvenience, but is something to consider if times get tough.
- Community/Kid's Activities – our library has a lot of community events both for individuals and families. On that same note, my sons participated in a summer reading program where they had to read a number of books. In doing so they won a free meal from iHOP, and it encouraged our kids to read! That is a win-win in my book.
- Magazines – magazine subscriptions can get real expensive, and really quickly. At the library you have a huge selection, which would cost you a ton to purchase on your own! Again, more savings here too!
As you can see there are a multitude of ways that your local library can help you save money. Even if you have to pay a fee to use your library, then first consider the potential savings. I'm sure that I've missed a few ways the library can help ya save money. I'd love to hear some other ideas from our readers!