Est. Reading Time: 3 Minutes
What local libraries have to offer
Today, when it seems like anything and everything you might want to know can be found in a Google search, libraries might not seem as relevant to your daily life. Despite what you might think, libraries provide some useful free services that you would otherwise have to pay for in the private sector. This includes, but is not limited to, streaming services, passes to museums and other cultural institutions, employment services, and tax preparation services.
Of course, they are also great for what they originally were created for – free access to books and information. This includes now being able to temporarily download e-books also. If you don’t have an e-reader, some libraries have ones you can borrow! Libraries also provide free access to wi-fi so if you need a connection you can take your device there and get it.
You may have to sign up on a waitlist for very popular books depending on how many e copies your library has!
All you need to access these items is to have a valid library card for your local library. If you don’t already have one, you can go to your library, fill out their card application, and present proof of residency (typically a piece of mail does the job). Then, they will give you a card at no cost to you.
Now with the internet, streaming services have taken over. You sign up online to subscribe to your favorite service and voila you have your access through your chosen media device. Streaming services are not free though, with prices ranging from $3.99-12.99 per month. Unless you go to your library that is. The two companies that most libraries use are Kanopy and Hoopla. You need to go to your local library’s website to find out what streaming service they offer and to get instructions on how to access it. Note: you will likely need to have your library card number to prove your eligibility.
Museum and cultural passes
So your parents or your friends have come from out of town and you want to show them some of the famous sights in your city or town. Admission costs though can be expensive when you have more than one person to pay for. This is where your library comes in. Many libraries have passes with free admission to various museums and cultural attractions in your local area. Depending on how many people are covered by the passes this could save you $20 – $80 per institution. The passes aren’t necessarily limited to just your science museums either. For example, my local library offers a pass to a nearby waterpark. This means that since my husband, two children, and I each have a library card, we can use it for free! Due to high demand, your library may require you to reserve your passes in advance, so don’t plan on using this service for last-minute trips.
If you are looking for your first job or you are in between jobs, your library might be a good place to stop by. While you may know that libraries offer computers and printers that you can use to work on your resume or apply for jobs online, many also offer employment seminars and resume evaluations given by experienced employment counselors. Sometimes you may find that you need to take a proctored exam for a job or for school. As long as you give them advance notice, your library may be able to provide this service for you. Look for events listed on your library’s website or ask a staff member at your library what upcoming events and workshops are scheduled.
Tax preparation and filing services
As you already know, we are full swing into the tax season now. Libraries have traditionally offered their locations as sites for tax preparation and filing clinics for individuals and couples with annual household incomes of $60,000 or less. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) often sponsors these clinics at local libraries (you do not have to be retirement age to use their service) but other national and local non-profits do as well. You may need to make an appointment. Additionally, you will definitely need to bring the required paperwork with you to the clinic so just know you will need to plan ahead. Also, note that the people at the tax clinic are volunteers. They cannot provide you with tax advice so if you have questions, you may want to talk to a tax professional first.
Go on the website for your local library
Find and review the website for your local library. Most libraries have a list of upcoming free events that might offer something you need!
Renew your card or get a new one!
It may require a visit in person to the library, but it could be worth the money you save using it.
Use a private room
Take advantage of the private room reservation system if you need a private and quiet place to work or study. Many libraries offer online room reservations (note that some libraries may charge a small fee for the use of the room).
About the Author
Dawn Torres-Gale, AFC
Accredited Financial Counselor
In 2008, Ms. Torres-Gale was chosen by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Foundation to be part of a select group of military spouses. Through this, she received FINRA sponsored training from the Association of Financial Counseling, Planning and Education and became an Accredited Financial Counselor® in February 2012.
Full Bio | All Articles | LinkedIn