7 Surprising Ways Librarians Can Save You Time and Money

Photo by: GettyBy Tracy Saelinger

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1. WE OFFER FREEBIES
Branches often have complimentary or discounted admission passes to local museums, science centers and zoos. And most libraries will also provide free Wi-Fi and access to foreign language databases, car-repair manuals and paid subscription sites, like Ancestry.com.

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2. E-BOOKS HAVE NO FINES

If returning books on time is tough for you, try borrowing an e-book. When the library's checkout period ends, you simply lose access to the file-there's nothing to bring back, so there are never any fines! Check one out at the library's website. Most libraries also offer e-reader tech support, and some even lend out devices.

Related: Learn about 10 things you didn't know you could rent.

3. WE MAKE BOOK CLUBS EASIER
Investigate whether or not your branch has book club kits, which include 8 to 12 copies and a discussion guide. Your group can get a new title every month at no cost (as long as you return the kit on time)!

4. ASK US ANYTHING
Even with the Internet, librarians field loads of random questions-and they love it. Log on to many library sites and you can find answers to your reference questions 24/7 by chat or text with a librarian, who will help you find a doctor, plan a trip, look for a recipe, even figure out the answers to crossword puzzles! And the sites are part of a local network, so there's always someone on duty.

5. WE STOCK THE LATEST VIDEO GAMES
You'd be surprised to see how many video games are available-not dusty old ones either, but sought-after new releases that retail for around $30 to $60 a pop. The Baltimore County Library has nearly 4,000 video games as well as 70,000 movies and TV series. Patrons can borrow video games for three weeks, TV series for one week and movies for one night.

Related: Check out the 10 best fitness DVDs.

6. YOU CAN CALL DIBS ON HOT NEW RELEASES
Most libraries now add new books to their online catalogs two or three months out, which means you can jump on the reserve list well before those titles hit the shelf. You'll receive a text or an email when your book is available.

7. WE CAN HELP YOU FIND A JOB
Career coaches and résumé specialists can be expensive, but libraries have responded to a huge need for assistance in this tough economy. A surprising number of libraries now offer career centers with resources you'd normally have to pay for. Stop in to search job listings, use résumé software, receive guidance with job applications, or attend workshops with local businesspeople to learn how to ace an interview.

SOURCES: Chris Taylor, director, Upper Arlington Public Library, Upper Arlington, OH. Linda Stevens, librarian, Harris County Public Library, Houston. Luis Herrera, board member, National Institute for Library Services, Washington, DC. Jamie Watson, collection development coordinator, Baltimore County Library.

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