As a voracious reader on a limited budget, I’ve always loved my local library. I’ve been a card-carrying member since birth pretty much. Even though I go to college 700 miles away, I still utilize my home library nearly every day in some way. Libraries are absolute treasures. If you know how to use them properly, they can really change your life. My local library has saved me thousands of dollars, lots of trips to the mall, and a lot of time. Here are five ways to utilize your local library to your advantage.

Learn where to find everything yourself

Yes, there are library workers for a reason. I highly recommend getting to know them, but you’ll feel a lot more at home in your local library and better able to navigate it to fit your needs if you learn where to find everything yourself. This means more than just your favorite young adult or mystery section. Figuring out where the audio-books are is super helpful, since many libraries separate those by category as well. What about the search computers to help you find books that you don’t see on the shelf? Is there a children’s section you can bring your siblings to? Knowing all of these things is quite easy if you just devote yourself to getting to know the library well. In addition, it will make the rest of these tips a lot easier! If your library is huge, like in NYC, they may even offer tours to help you get acquainted. 

Once you know where everything is, you’ll have any easy time finding new books to read, books you need for school assignments, and your favorite magazine.

Learn how to request books for purchase

Most libraries are well-stocked and librarians stay abreast of new releases and have them on order, but sometimes you’ll discover a new book online and find out your library doesn’t have it. Instead of just giving in and buying the book yourself, request that your library buy it to add to the collection. They won’t be able to buy every book every patron wants, but their job is to buy books that people want to read. When you request a book, they know it’ll get read. The same goes for other library materials, including movies, video games, audio-books, etc.

Utilize unconventional library media

Libraries are well-known for being stocked with books, books, and more books, but in order to adapt to modern times, most libraries are also now brimming with unconventional media, including DVDs and Blu-rays of movies and TV shows, video games for all sorts of devices, magazines, and access to other community resources. For example, my local library has “passes” you can check out to get a free lane at the local bowling alley, a tour of the local museum, and more. If you love entertainment and like watching a lot of movies, especially ones that aren’t on Netflix, you’ll save a ton of time and money by browsing the shelves of your local library before you click the buy button on Amazon. If you’re not sure of what types of media your library offers, don’t be afraid to ask someone who is working.

Test the first book in a series before committing to a buy

I always think I’m going to love a series and then discover that it was far too-over hyped. I end up putting it down after one or two books. This is unfortunate when I just spent a small fortune buying the series in hardback. Now I always test out the first book of a series, especially a completed series, at my local library before committing to buying the complete series. However, even if I like the first book, if the library has the complete series, I’ll just read it there. Don’t spend money when you don’t have to. If you ever discover a series missing one of the books at your local library, be sure to point that out to a librarian so they can rectify that and make sure the series is intact on the shelves for all readers to enjoy.

Utilize their online resources

Even though I’m 700 miles away, I utilize my local library back in Kentucky everyday. I use their online resources, including Tutor.com, Overdrive, Hoopla Digital, duoLingo, etc. Go to the main website for your local library to explore what options they have. If you don’t have a subscription to that service through your home library, your school library might offer it. Personally, I over-utilize Overdrive and Hoopla, both of which allow me to rent e-books and audio books and download them to my computer, phone, or Kindle in seconds. Online resources are great for people who want to read the latest releases right away. E-books and audio books are often uploaded within days of their release, while hard copies may take a bit to reach the physical location. If you can’t find out what online resources your local library offers, ask a librarian or go to the resource website directly and attempt to log in using your library card number.

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member
Aryssa is a student at Yale University, where she enjoys worshiping the patriarchy, making sandwiches, and finding a husband. She loves wearing her FFL gear and documenting the horrific expressions that ensue for her scrapbook. When she is not being "oppressed" by the patriarchy, she enjoys Lilly Pulitzer and classic novels.

Read more articles