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The Ultimate Bargain: Your Public Library! Get The Most Out Of Your Card

The Online Way To Get The Books You Want- Practically Free!
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Denver Public Library’s 36th Annual Gigantic Used Book Sale (credit: CBS)

Denver Public Library’s 36th Annual Gigantic Used Book Sale (credit: CBS)

Written by Brooke Wagner

DENVER (CBS4) There may not be a better bargain on the planet than the public library. For years, I put off getting my library card. For some reason, I was intimidated by the process; maybe I wouldn’t know the protocol and get a scolding from the librarian! Well, my husband, an avid reader, got his card, and it finally occurred to me that he was saving a lot of time and money by getting his reading materials at the library.

Now, our family counts the library among our favorite outings. We’ve enjoyed sea life seminars, puppet shows, reading contests, and countless books, books on tape, DVDs, and computer games. In today’s digital world, the library remains a bastion of peace, quiet, and enlightenment. When I started using my card, I couldn’t believe how library access has changed!

Now, I simply go to my district’s web site, search for the media item I want, request it, and get an email when it’s on the shelf and ready for me to pick up. I get several days to make it to the library, too, so there’s no rush. Sometimes, the media has to come from another library in the district, but I still get it within a day or so. Other times, the book is very popular, and there’s a waiting or hold list. However, even when I’ve been 27th in line, the wait goes pretty quickly. I’m happy to wait a few weeks and save $20 or so on a good book! Plus, most libraries allow you to renew your books online, so you never even have to make an extra trip. Honestly, I can’t believe how easy librarians have made it to find media. Ingenious.

One other trick a friend shared with me: Often, the large print editions of popular books have a shorter wait list. Not to mention, they’re easier on the eyes! I’ve never waited more than two weeks for a large print copy.

Have you seen all the magazines the library has available? Save money on subscriptions! Our family also checks out all kinds of movies at the library. You can put them on hold, just like books – and there they are, on the shelf waiting for you to pick up on Friday night. The only thing missing is the popcorn. Some libraries allow you to download movies onto your laptop free. You can also learn skills, like speaking a foreign language, using FREE media from the library. Some libraries even offer tax tutorials or filing help.

Local libraries such as the Denver Public Library and the Arapahoe Library District (at Koelbel Library) have incredible books sales. So, if you want to build your own special library, you can do it for at least 80 percent off the cover price. At the Koelbel sale (in September) they usually have a fill-a-bag event at the end of the sale – I’ve walked away with dozens of books for around $5! And, if you have books to trade, you might look into the community at bookmooch.com. At this site, you can list the books you have to trade, ship them to people who want them, then earn points to get the books you want shipped to you. So, the only time you should pay is when you ship books to another member. Considering the low price to ship media mail at the post office, this could cost nothing but pocket change.

My kids love the summer reading programs that allow them to compete against themselves, and there are some fantastic free classes for little ones and adults. One morning, the kids and I got to handle all types of shells and even see an octopus close-up!

Computer access is also free at the public library. My kids log on to learning games, then we all grab a few books and find a nice, quiet, cool corner and relax. Now, that’s a great afternoon!

I remember, early in my career, finding solace at the library. I was a thousand miles from my family, lonely, and making around minimum wage. I certainly didn’t have money to spend on books, movies, or anything else! But, spending time at the library, surrounded by stacks of weighty volumes, made me feel rich. That’s what a real bargain’s all about.

Please let me know about your favorite library finds in the comments section. And, don’t forget our CBS4 Deal of the Day! Happy reading!

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