“How to Save Money at the Library” is a Guest Post from Author Leanna Hampton.
The library has so much more to offer you than free books. Chances are, you’re already paying for the library through property taxes. Let me teach you how to save money at the library!
Traditionally, I write about topics that encourage women to hold onto Jesus and take heart when life is challenging. However, my day job for years has been working at libraries in Columbus, OH. I could not pass up an opportunity to share about something near and dear to my heart.
Stewarding your money and your talents is a topic that is clear in the Bible. We want to be the servant in Matthew 25:21 about which Jesus says “well done.” Saving money in order to invest more of our lives in the kingdom is part of the task set before us.
After a 15-year career with the library, five of those as a qualified librarian, I’d like to share hidden money saving opportunities you might be missing out on at your library. As a longtime library lover, it is extremely difficult for me to narrow this list down. Nevertheless, I am going to share three major areas you can save money at the library and a few bonus librarian pro tips!
Three Areas to Save Money at the Library
The library works hard to leverage their tax dollars by selecting resources that benefit their customers the most, financially and informationally. Each library’s funding and priorities are different, but I am going to list a few common subscriptions you can have access to for free!
Do you pay for a digital subscription to a newspaper or two? Maybe you check the latest Wall Street trends daily. Do you use Consumer Reports when buying a used car or vacuum cleaner? How about paying for high priced genealogical tools to delve into your family history? Do you try to repair your own car to save money?
There are subscriptions that the library potentially already owns. At my own Columbus Metropolitan Library in Ohio, we currently buy subscriptions for PressReader so customers can have free digital access to The Columbus Dispatch, plus 7,000 world newspapers and magazines daily. We also purchase access to Value Line, Morningstar Investment Research Center, Consumer Reports, Ancestry, and digital Chilton repair manuals.
That’s just a tiny fraction of the personal subscription savings you could be accessing with your library card. You can view more here.
#2: Free Faxing and Scanning
Skip going to FedEx and instead visit the library to print, copy, scan, and fax. While there is a small charge per page for printing, it is often free to fax and scan to email. I’ve had customers tell me they just spent $50 at a UPS to fax a 50 page document the government needed. When it comes to government agencies they still love their fax machine, so tuck this knowledge away for future use.
Some libraries also offer free resume printing or even several dollars worth of free prints per customer each day due to hardships caused by the economy. Don’t forget there are free computers and wifi for use when your own technology takes a dive one day.
#3: E-Books and Digital Audio Books
Did you know, there’s a free service for E-Books and digital audio books? I’m amazed at how many of my friends still buy Kindle books and pay for an Audible subscription to listen to books. While I find it honorable to buy books in order to support the author, publishers have special rules for libraries.
Libraries pay a cost per use or have a cap on the number of times a book can be accessed before another copy needs to be purchased. Let the publishers worry about their dividends and start saving yourself money by downloading your library’s apps for free digital books.
Common offerings are Libby by Overdrive and Hoopla. The functionality is similar to Kindle and Audible. The only difference is the library may not own the book you want to access or you may have to wait on a list for someone to finish reading it. Library money doesn’t grow on trees after all! Personally, I like to download ebooks on Libby and have them sent to my Kindle devices. Win win!
What about selection? Libraries often join consortiums of other libraries, pooling their money together in order to offer a wider range of options and more copies. Check out your library’s offerings – you might be pleasantly surprised!
Librarian Pro Tips:
You might be able to get a library card in another city even if you don’t live there! For the libraries in Columbus, Ohio, you just have to show a valid photo ID and be an Ohio resident. That’s a whole lot of library money saving options.
Many libraries will allow you to apply online and email or mail you a card that you can begin using immediately for electronic resources, subscriptions, and digital books. I got access to Acorn TV for free for a year because I shopped around to other libraries in 2020.
Ask for a Tour
When you visit a library, ask for a tour. Staff are proud of their libraries and know how to show off the best they have to offer. Ask about children’s events, reading programs for school age kids, homework help, volunteer/service opportunities for teens, free meeting rooms or study spaces, business and grant writing classes, and more.
Use It or Lose It
Librarians would love the chance to convince you that their library is amazing! Go put your tax dollars to work, visit a library, and start saving money today.
You may be paying for things twice! Through your local property taxes the library has gobs of resources available to you. Save money at your library, by exploring what resources you are already paying for that the library could offer you for free. The libraries resources may just help you stay on Mission!
Leanna Hampton is an author, librarian, and auntie living in central Ohio. She loves taking walks in the woods with Jesus and is most at peace when she is paddling her stand-up paddle board on the local reservoir. Her deepest desire is to glorify God through sharing her authentic, messy, faith-filled story of following Jesus. You can connect with her on her website, leannahampton.com and on facebook.