Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Everything's Free at the Library!

A credit card you never have to pay off. 

They were right! They were all right! The library is absolutely fantastic! Before this starts sounding like a min-90s PSA for the benefits provided to the community by the library and the cultural and sentimental value it provides, I want to just emphasize this one fact: everything is free at the library. Probably the single biggest physical media cache in your area is offering everything it has for you to borrow, for free. If it isn't at your particular library, you can go online and literally have other libraries send you what you want. Sure it's not going to satisfy the instant gratification offered by internet services, and maybe it won't be as quick as ordering a movie or book off of Amazon prime. BUT IT'S FREE!

My local library has an online catalog that allows me to log into my account and search for items at any library in the county. I can reserve items and when they're available I get an e-mail saying it is available for me to pick up at my local branch. Look into doing this for yourself. I have consumed thousands of dollars worth of books and movies over the last few years of rediscovering the library. Here are examples of what the library has to offer.

Cascades of books!
Books: Kind of a no brainier, but when I moved up to Washington, I decided to spice up my evenings by reading this author I had heard about by the name of H.P Lovecraft. At this point in my life I was living in a trailer on my future in-laws driveway. Needless to say, my discovery of the father of modern horror was a fun re-introduction to the free bookstore.

It's like reading, but with more pictures.

Comic Books: Back in the day, my library card was solely used to rent absence amounts of Garfield comic collections. I spent hours, reading funnies in the library, and when it was time to go checking them out by the dozens. That has remained largely the same, with the addition of graphic novels and larger more "serious" comic collections. Lately I've started the Sandman, Astonishing X-men, and Bone series. Anytime a new Marvel film approaches theaters, I tend to rent a few comics in the series, most of which are in the system.

E-ink is your grandma's technology. 

E-books: I literally don't even have to leave my house to access the most convenient form of reading there is. I own a Kindle Fire HD and am capable of borrowing library books for free in the Kindle format. I download the book and it stays on all my devices for 2 weeks (after which I can renew or request to borrow it again at the soonest time possible). I then can access it on my kindle, phone and any web browser I have access to. 

Fine cinematic art is at your disposal.

Movies: This method takes far more patience than is culturally customary. It's not Netflix, VOD or Hulu or any other service that equates to instant gratification. It's not even Redbox, but it's cheaper than all of those options. What I've found to be effective is to keep a running list of movies that I want to watch eventually on my library account. Right now I have Saving Mr. Banks, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and Apocalypto sitting at home. I only watch about 3/4 of the movies I check out from the library, but my options are always there, and sometimes I can find DVD's that aren't available for streaming at all. 

It's like a physical iTunes.

Music and Audio Books: Seemingly the biggest loophole in the RIAA's ongoing war against illegal music downloads seems to be sanctioned by the US government. Libraries offer a huge collection of music on CD, again you can request any album in the system across multiple libraries in the area. Even more attractive to me as a commuter is the vast array of audio books available over multiple formats. These things sell for large chunks of money and you're probably only going to listen to them once. Or you can just borrow one and call it good.

You can get even more from your local library, everything from community events, free usage of the latest consumer reports and a number of other programs. It's one big free bookstore, and there are tons of them all over the country. Utilize them, they are fantastic. 

1 comment:

  1. I love our OC Libraries...especially when I'm broke! It's like going shopping for books and movies for free. I also love the on-line browsing and then being notified when they're ready for me. Best deal in town!