Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cheap and Free activities at your local library this summer

With the summer months coming, you want to be able to keep the kids busy on a budget.  We use our library a lot for a free and good time.    Here are some ways that you can use your library to keep your entertainment budget low for the family.
Free books

This is the primary reason for  the  library’s existence. Most libraries offer free check out privileges for local residents or there may be a small charge to obtain a card for a week or two .  Many library now also offer books for the ebook reader like nook or the kindle.  Our local library has had classes on how to borrow ebooks.
Audio books
If you have a long commute or going on a road trip, they have audio book as well.  You can upload to your ipod or mp3 for easy listening. 
Many libraries offer DVD’s for check out. They may not be the newest releases and you may have to get on a waiting list for popular titles, but it can be a great way to get some free entertainment.
Book sale
When the library cleans out it’s old materials and unneeded donations, they sell those books to the public to raise funds for new materials. Prices vary, but it’s not uncommon to find hardbacks for under $2  and paperbacks for under $1. Some sales even have clearance days when you pay a flat fee for a bag or box of books.  I have been able to pick up some great books to sell on ebay and
Museum passes
Many libraries offer free passes to area museums, cultural attractions, botanical gardens and zoos. Some are good for multiple family members over several days, while others are limited to one or two people and must be returned the next morning.

You can reserve passes online or by phone. Do this, because anything free is a big hit with parents.
Internet access
Our library offers free internet access, either on their own terminals or over a WiFi network that you can use with your own laptop. Some sites are, necessarily, blocked, but the vast majority of sites are accessible.
Computer access
Beyond Internet access, the library offers computers loaded with Microsoft Office applications and other utilities. They are free to use and you only pay per page if you need to print something. If you don’t use a computer that often and don’t want to own one, this is a great resource.
Book clubs
You can find a book club for almost any interest, from fiction to non-fiction. Some are narrowly focused such as those dedicated to certain authors, genres, or non-fiction subjects. At my library, folks  are encouraged to request a book club or offer to start one if one doesn’t exist that suits their interest.
Our library hosts free exhibitions of the art works, collections, and other talents of local residents. Fun to look at and a great way to gain exposure for your own work if you have something to exhibit.
Free classes
There are all kinds of classes offered including language courses, writing classes, how-to courses, business and finance classes, and computer classes. There are also other, more specialized classes throughout the year offering varying levels of instruction.
Children’s entertainment
Games, puppet shows, arts and crafts, story times, scavenger hunts and other entertainment are available for children. 
Reference assistance
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Most reference librarians are very good at helping you track down obscure works, facts, or statistics. At some libraries you don’t even have to leave your house as they offer online access to a reference librarian. Their help is free.
Lectures, storytelling festivals and speaker series’
Authors, important citizens, professors, artists, storytellers, and other notable people are often invited to speak on topics of interest or to promote their endeavors. These may be one time appearances or ongoing series’ covering a variety of topics.
Free movies
No, they’re not first run movies, but the library frequently offers free screenings.  During the summer months, our library has a weekly afternoon free movie for the kids. 
Free concerts
Local bands and musicians sometimes play at library hosted concerts. The music may have a theme, such as music from a literary time period or the selections may be holiday based.
Summer reading programs and contests
In the summer, the library offers reading programs for both adults and kids. Readers are entered into weekly prize drawings and a drawing for an end of summer grand prize. Kids also get other incentives like stickers and gift certificates to local book stores.  They often have the books the reading list
Tutoring and homework help
Kids can get free help with their homework or receive additional tutoring. The library keeps a volunteer staff of subject experts with teaching experience to help kids navigate their schoolwork.  In my town,  during the summer months, they have a reading classes for kids who are having some issues with reading comprehension
Teen activities
Many libraries offer social activities just for teens such as book clubs, classes, pizza nights, karaoke, and games. One day a week during the summer  they have a teen wii night where they have a pizza party  It’s a safe environment for teens to meet other teens.
No matter the size of your  town library  you’re likely to find many free or low cost resources that will interest you. A library is one of the best benefits you have as a resident  of a particular community and I encourage you to take advantage of whatever they may offer. I

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