10 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Local Library 🏫

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Libraries have provided hours of free entertainment and education for generations. Here's how you can get the most out of yours. 📚You don't to spend any money to have an enjoyable afternoon!  Yesterday I put together a list of 31 Things to Do For Free this Month.  # 24 on this list was making use of your local library.  Thing is, though, the library isn't technically free since if you pay taxes, then a portion of them go to fund your local library.  So may as well get your money's worth, right? 🙂

1. Rent out DVDs of obscure classic movies.  🎥

Let's face it. When you have a hankering for 80's cult classics like The Goonies or Back to the Future II, and it's not on Netflix, life just plain sucks.  But don't worry.  Your local library just  might have what you're looking for.  Bonus: many libraries still have VHS tapes if that's what you're into!

2. Take the kids to an awesome children's program.  👧

Oftentimes libraries will have fun programs for children. If you're a stay-at-home parent, these can be refreshing breaks to get out of the house with your little ones and connect with other parents in the community. Most of the time these programs consist of storytimes, but a few times a month your library may have special events for kids.  For example, my local library is hosting a LEGO club next Saturday!

3. Look for a side hustle.  💰

Libraries very often have bulletin boards where people looking to pay somebody for a job or gig.  Yes, nowadays we have Craigslist for that, but believe it or not there are still plenty of people who don't trust Craigslist.  And oftentimes the people who need the most help — say, seniors — are those who are the least computer-savvy and would typically resort to finding paid help the old-fashioned way, like a library bulletin board.

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4. Have your teens check out their after-school programs.  🎒

The library programs aren't just for little kids. For example, my local library is having an after-school program called “Computer Coding, Gaming, & Crafts” for teens. If there's anything that our children should be learning, it's computer coding.  They also have one called “XY Spy School” where you “improve your spy skills.” Sounds legit.  Look up your local library online and see what kind of programs they have for your older children.

5. Join a book club.  📚

Did you know that many libraries still have book clubs where they pick a book, read a chapter or so a week, and then meet at the library to discuss it?  If you've never joined a book club before, now's your chance!

6. Attend a writing workshop.  ✍️

Maybe you want to write a novel or short story. Or maybe you want to start a blog like this one to share your thoughts on a particular subject and perhaps make some money. Local libraries often put on free workshops where professional writers can help you hone your writing skills. Some libraries even offer song writing workshops.

7. Attend a business counseling session.  💼

If you're thinking about starting a small business, know that some libraries offer free business counseling sessions where successful business owners in the community come for an hour or two to counsel new entrepreneurs.  Not only is it great to bounce business ideas off local leaders, but these can also be great networking opportunities.

8. Attend book readings and author signings. 🖋️

You may have to check out a larger regional library for this, but very often famous authors will come to library to read their latest work and even sign your copy!

9. Research your family history.  👴🏼

Libraries often have in their possession old records that the Internet just hasn't gotten its hands on yet — census information, voting rolls, immigration records, you name it.  If you have the personality for it — like I do — you can spend hours going through this data and finding treasure troves of information on you or your spouse's family history.

10. Play games.  🎲

Libraries often put on free board game sessions.  These can be a total blast and a way to meet new friends.  Did you know that the Minnesota Library Association even put on a conference a few years back specifically devoted to board games for libraries?  It's true!

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