It’s no secret to me, but public libraries are the hidden gems of American society. It’s hard to find a town without a library, though of course libraries differ in the services they provide. However, if you don’t have a library card, you need to remedy that immediately. It doesn’t take much to set up a library card. In fact, you just need a proof of residence and identity. If you’re a college student, you’ll likely still be able to get a card at the local public library. And you should, because there are some great ways you can take advantage of your public library to set yourself up for success.

Read more books for less

Let’s start with the basics: books. Libraries are much more than books now, but they’re still the core. At the library, you can check out any book on their shelf for free. That includes best-sellers, indie picks, obscure biographies,and travel diaries. I read so voraciously that if I had to pay list price for every book I read, I’d be broke. Try a new author or genre, or pick up a book just because you like the cover. It’s not going to cost you a cent.

Host movie night on the cheap

Honestly, I am so impressed with library DVD collections. They’ve got the latest releases before I even remember having seen a trailer for them in theaters and guess what? Free. Many libraries have limits on how many DVDs you can have out at a time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan a great movie night with friends on the cheap. All you’ve gotta pay for is wine and snacks, let the library do the rest. Put that old classic you love on hold, or browse the collection for something that catches your interest.

Meeting rooms meet-up

One of the hidden secrets of libraries is that they have meeting and study rooms you can use for free. Hosting a GOP gathering? Use the local library’s meeting room. Need to study for a test? Reserve a study room and get your homework on. They’re free, and while your event should be open to the public (ie, not just you and your friends hanging) if you’re in a big meeting room, it’s a great place to host community events without footing a rental bill.

Digital resources & online courses

You can use the library even from outside the library’s walls. From your couch to the classroom, the library is there for you. These resources will be library-specific, but most library subscribe to digital resources that offer electronic books and magazines, online classes, and streaming services. Some of my favorite services are Lynda, Universal Class, Overdrive, and Hoopla. I can rent a movie from my smart TV without spending a dime, or I can take a class on Ancient Greek Civilizations from my bed! Start on the library’s homepage, and go from there.

Learn a new language

One of the most popular up and coming services being offered by libraries are language services. Both in class and online, libraries are offering ways for patrons to learn languages ranging from American Sign Language to French to Arabic and Russian. Popular online modules include Lynda, DuoLingo, and Mango, but many libraries also offer in-person classes, along with the countless books, DVDs, and CDs they have related to language learning.

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member