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I love going to the library.  Even as a little kid, I loved to read books, and the library was a great place for me to go and browse and find new things.

I still love to read and I still love to go to the library.  Our city is lucky enough to have a pretty great library, and in the couple of years I've lived here, my wife and I have found a few resources (and tricks) that have made the library an increasingly valuable asset to us.  And, since a good chunk of our property tax bill goes to funding the library, we're paying for it anyways, right?

Check these ideas out:

  • Going beyond books – Our library has a great book selection but they also have lots and lots of CDs and DVDs, many of which you normally pay.  I get CDs all the time, and we've gotten a couple of DVDs as well.  I'm not ready to drop our Netflix subscription, simply because many of the popular titles that the library has are three-day only rentals (as opposed to one-week rentals) and since we only average one trip a week to the library, we've found that this is something to supplement our Netflix subscription rather than replace it.
  • RSS feeds – When browsing our library website, I stumbled upon a ‘new releases' section and found that you could subscribe to RSS feeds for new fiction, new DVDs, and new CDs.  So, anytime something comes in, I automatically know that it's there.  They also have other categories for kids and teens books, which hopefully will come in handy for Baby Beagle someday!
  • Holds – If an item is reserved, you can place a hold on it.  When the item comes back in, the next person in line gets it placed on hold for them and has up to five days to pick it up.  Once I see an item is in stock, especially if it's a popular item, I can place a hold on it and wait.  You cal also suspend and re-activate holds at your leisure, so that if you've already got a few books checked out or you're not going to be at the library for awhile, it will pass you up (but still keep your place in line, which is awesome!)
  • Linked accounts – My wife and I both have cards.  Since I read more than my wife, but my wife goes to the library more than I do (see below), we inquired and were able to link our accounts so that she can check out an item that I've placed on hold.  So, often I'll see something come in via my RSS feed, log in and place a hold on it, get it reserved, and have my wife pick it up, bring it home, and later on return it for me.  It doesn't get much easier than that!
  • Kids programs – My wife takes Baby Beagle to a once per week story time program that she found in the library newsletter.  He isn't really ‘into' it yet, as he'd much rather crawl around and explore, but we agree that it's setting a good foundation for him nonetheless to get used to going to the library.

I have also seen that there are other resources that I'm not even using (yet).  Namely, our city is part of a county / state system where we have access to electronic resources, including eBooks and the like.  There's also a feature where, if I want a particular book and my library doesn't have it, you can search within other libraries across the state, and they can send it over to my library for me to loan.  How sweet is that?  Right now, I've been keeping plenty busy with the books and such from my own library where I haven't had to use either of these features, but it's great to know that they are there.

All in all, I think I've found some pretty great tricks that have helped me make the most out of our library and have gotten many hours of entertainment and enjoyment at the same time.  If you regularly use resources that your library offers, take a look and see if any of these (or other) ideas might help.  You can save some significant money in the process by borrowing instead of buying!