Everyone loves free stuff. I mean, really, why wouldn't you?
I read a lot of books for free. Just for fun, I looked over the list of books that I read in 2012 (find them here), just to see how many I paid for (or borrowed from a friend) and how many were free. Of the 70 books I read, 39 were free.
And I don't just get to read old books for free. Nope. New ones. Popular ones. I read Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane right after it came out. Lots of new books are available. For free!
Want to know my secret?
I GO TO THE LIBRARY!!
What did you think I was going to say? I pirate it? Pffhh. I'm only a pirate on September 19.
It seems obvious, but you'd be amazed at how many people--readers, even--don't have a library card and have never stepped foot inside their local library. This, to me, seems plain ole crazy.
Or maybe, you just don't know what the library has to offer. Let me brag a little because I love my library. Actually, I frequent two. One near work, one near home. Because I can't get enough!
Here are 16 reasons to go to the library:
- Books! Books!
More books over here! Look! There's more aisles there! I'll use as many exclamation points as I can to show you all the BOOKS!!! Oh, and they will let you take them home for a while. For free.
- Not only books
Want to read the New York Times, without springing for a subscription? The library has you covered! They keep a bunch of magazines around, too.
If you have not discovered audiobooks yet, you are missing out. Perfect for your morning commute, road trip, or even to keep you entertained while doing housework. I love audiobooks, and I listen to them all the time. But, they're pricey. Even with sites like Audible.com (You even get a book FREE when you sign up!) making them affordable, why buy it when you can get it for free at the library!
Oh, you didn't know that, did you? You can actually borrow an eBook from the library. Some libraries will lend you the eReader, too.
I don't know how widely available this program is, but oh. My. Goodness. It is awesome! If audiobooks and eBooks weren't enough, how about an app that puts them right on your phone and lets you download them to your computer? This is my most favorite thing right now. I can download a new book in a matter of minutes without even leaving home or work. If your library participates, you get access thousands of eBooks and audiobooks. For free.
- Geographical reach
Besides the plethora of books available in the library, you can also have books sent to the library from other libraries. It's like going to a whole bunch of libraries at once. Plus, in PA, if you have a library card from an Access PA participant, you can get a library card at any other Access PA library. To get a library card in the first place, you only need to live or work in the area. And they're FREE. (Or you can pay a small fee if you're out of the area, but like I said, if you have a card from an Access PA library, you're good anywhere.)
- Book clubs
What's better than sitting around with a bunch of people who share your love for books and who have just finished reading the same book you did? I look forward to my book club all month. I love my book club! We have some brilliant, engaging discussions about books. Plus, it exposes me to awesome books I might never have read otherwise. If you are a writer, join a book club IMMEDIATELY! You need to be able to talk about books and hear what others say about them. You will learn much and have a blast while doing it.
- DVDs and CDs
When it's out of the theaters, not yet on Netflix, and left RedBox long ago, chances are, you can find that DVD at the library. Some libraries have a tiny fee, but some, like the Cranberry Library, let you borrow for free and keep it 3 nights! CDs are usually available, too. Seriously. Where else can you go to borrow a CD?
- Computers and the internet
If you don't have a computer, they do! If you don't have internet access, they do! And while you can't watch porn there, you can do pretty much whatever you need to do online. For free. At the library. You can even connect your laptop or mobile device to the wi-fi. Oh, and you can print. Not for free. But cheap.
- Stuff for kids and families
Everything from toddler story time to teen reading groups. Want your kid to read more? Sign them up for something at the library. It's not only about books, either. Sure, Dr. Seuss Day is an awesomely fun time, but there are also movie nights, art clubs, princess parties, etc.
- Other random, fun events!
Halloween Pet Parade. Need I say more? It's a real thing. And the library has it. Every year. And other things like Dinosaur and Fossil Day or the Oscar Party. There is always something.
- Learn stuff
If it's not an event, it's a class! Learn about Native Americans, the new healthcare act, what your handwriting says about you, learn about computers, knitting, photography, eReaders, and just about anything people can get together to do. Somewhere, there is a library teaching about it. You can even learn a new language.
- Author readings/signings
I hope, if you are a writer, you know this. Libraries are great places for readings and to meet authors.
- Used books
Most libraries have a section or, in New Castle, an ENTIRE BASEMENT, of used books for sale for very cheap. If that alone wasn't awesome enough, the money all goes to the library and helps them keep the lights on and new books coming in.
- Your ancestors
No, not dead bodies. But the records of them! If you're a genealogy fan, you have likely spent time in the library's research section looking up things like death records and birth records. Hey. Guess what. They'll even help you do it!
- A place to go
Got an hour to kill? Want a quiet, cozy place to sit and read? What not go to the library? Most even have a kid's spot with some toys and things to entertain. Let your kid play while you sit and read. What more could you ask for?
I could go on and on. The library is so much more than books. It's a community treasure.
Go to your library. Go there so often that the librarians know you by name. And while you're there, leave a few bucks behind to keep the library going. With so much FREE stuff, they need support from all of us who take full advantage of what the library offers.
You never know what you'll see when you're there. The Cranberry Library actually has a real, live Abe Lincoln impersonator who has been known to come in wearing full costume and sit and read the paper with his black hat popping out the top. The New Castle Library has a bone fide library cat, Stacks, who is great entertainment and quite lovable.
Rainy day? Go to the library. Bored at home? Go to the library. Kids driving you crazy? Take them to the library. Want to people watch for a while? Go to the library. Want to discover and learn and laugh? GO TO THE LIBRARY!
And if you do, tell me your best library moment in the comments.
Denise Drespling is the author of short story, “Reflections,” in the Tales of Mystery, Suspense & Terror anthology (October 2014) and “10 Items or Less,” in 10: Carlow’s MFA Anniversary Anthology (April 2014). You can also find her work in these anthologies: The Dragon's Rocketship Presents: The Scribe's Journal and Winter Wishes.
Hang out with Denise at her blog, The Land of What Ifs, her BookTube channel on YouTube, or on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, or Instagram.