Here are the top ten reasons (in no particular order) to use your local library as a source of free entertainment.
- Free books!
If you like to read even half as much as I do, borrowing books from the library will have you hundreds of dollars each year. No, you can't write in the books, and yes, you can only have them for a month or so, but you can read great books at no cost and don't have to make space on your shelves for those books you're too embarrassed to admit you've read. *coughTwilightcough*
- Learn a language.
Not only can you go to the library to pick up books in other languages or language-learning software, but many libraries also offer free online learning for foreign language. After spending a few years debating the merits of the Rosetta Stone language programs, I recently started learning German from the comfort of my own home via the library. Through a link on the library website, I enter my library card number and I get free access to language lessons. All I need is my computer and an Internet connection, and I'm learning German for free!
- Get some culture!
My library offers museum passes that allow you free or discount admission to Boston-area museums. I recently visited the New England Aquarium and I have a pass on reserve that will get me into the Museum of Science next weekend to see the Harry Potter exhibit at a discount price.
And speaking of Harry Potter...
- Borrow movies for free.
If you thought those $1 deals at Redbox were a good deal, consider this: you can borrow VHS tapes and DVDs from the library for a week at a time and get your movie-watching fix for free.
- Surf the Web!
Have half an hour to kill in between appointments or errands? Hop over to the library, where you can usually find an available computer for thirty minutes of e-mail checking, blog reading, and Web surfing.
- Save paper, save the planet.
Share resources and save the planet by reading your favorite newspapers and magazines at the library. I have my absolute favorite magazines sent to my house each month, but there are dozens more magazines I read whenever I have the chance. Next time I've got an hour or two to myself I'm hitting the library: People, Real Simple, and Harper's, here I come!
Libraries are way more than big buildings full of books. At my library you can watch a series of Audrey Hepburn or Alfred Hitchcock films, join a book club, listen to piano recitals, and even attend a pie tasting. Whether you're new to the area or just want to meet new people, the library is a safe way to meet new people and enjoy an evening of entertainment.
- Entertain out-of-town guests.
Parents visiting for a week? Pick up a Masterpiece Theatre DVD set from the library and let the folks settle in with something to watch. Have nieces and nephews coming over? Grab some picture books, books on CD, and videos so that they'll have something to do. Throwing a dinner party on the night of your guests' arrival? Borrow a cookbook with recipes for their favorite dishes and make guests feel at home.
- Try something new!
I never thought I'd like listening to audio books (it's cheating!), but they make my long commute to work fly by so quickly that I take back my criticisms (it's not cheating, it's multitasking!). At the library, I can borrow audio books for free, and if the reader isn't someone I enjoy I haven't wasted money on a book I can't listen to; I just return it and try a new book.
- Teach yourself something.
Want to lose weight? Borrow a low-fat cookbook and an exercise DVD. Always wanted to try knitting? Use the library's photocopier to copy your favorite patterns from one of the knitting books. Planning a garden? Spend an evening with fellow green-thumbs at a library meeting and bring home a book about flowers. The possibilities are endless!