Saving Money at the Library

March 7, 2021 | By: Communications Staff

by Barbara Bailey, Development Specialist

Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, many of us lose our way to the Library. Maybe we move out of our hometowns and discover that we don’t actually know the first thing about signing up for a library card ourselves. Maybe we hear about a program happening at the library that sounds really cool, but life gets in the way or we forget or think that it’s not meant for us.

As an adult I’ve rediscovered how much I can get out of my library.

In this day and age, where it seems everything and everyone wants something—our time, our money, our likes and follows—we need libraries now more than EVER. Libraries make our everyday lives so much better…and a little less expensive!

Free Stuff to Read

Cookbooks: I cannot keep up with all the new cookbooks (although I try). Celebrities, doctors, and even Snoop Dogg have cookbooks! And there is any diet or flavor you can think of. Thankfully, SJCPL is a “popular materials library,” so our Collection Development librarians do the dirty work of figuring out which Instant Pot cookbooks are really worth your time. This year I have checked out 21 cookbooks. Multiply that by an average retail of $16, and I’ve saved a whopping $336! That’s just on the cookbooks! Not to mention the breakfasts, lunches and dinners I’ve prepared at home instead of hitting Taco Bell.

Books:  My reading habits tend toward nonfiction. Recently, I delved into finance books as a way to save money for a long weekend in Los Angeles. David Bach’s newest book, The Latte Factor, laid out a simple method of saving money for the things that matter…like our vacation! Between my nonfiction obsession and access to new releases, I’ve saved at least $704 this year.

Magazines: I think magazines are beautiful, but some retail individually for upwards of $20! Not counting the many, many magazines I have downloaded instantly from Flipster, I have checked out 105 magazines this year at an average of $5 a piece, I have saved roughly $525!

Free Stuff to Entertain

Hoopla: When Eminem’s album Kamikaze came out, everyone else was buying it electronically or paying their $9.99 a month to Spotify Premium to listen to it on demand. Not us. We downloaded it instantly and listened to it for the 7 day borrowing window. When my husband’s expired, he just checked it out again, using another of his 10 monthly check outs. I’ve checked out over a hundred albums this year, saving me about $1,340!

Movie Night: Did you know SJCPL stocks all the blockbusters when they come out on DVD?! For 50 cents a day, you can check out movies, TV Series, documentaries, etc. Most DVDs cost $15-$30 and streaming rentals can cost a couple bucks each. We’ve saved $72 on movie nights at home.

Free Stuff You Didn’t Realize the Library Has

Studio 304 Equipment: My husband Kevin is a car salesman by day, league bowler by night. He uses the equipment from Studio 304 for both! He checks out the Zhiyun Gimbal Stabilizer to film videos for Facebook about new car inventory. When Kevin wants to work on his spare shooting, he checks out the Reticam HG30 Grip with Smartphone Mount to film his approach at the Chippewa Bowl Monday Night League. He spends enough on bowling balls–I don’t need him spending money on expensive tripods and smartphone mounts, too. Studio 304 has saved us $150 on those equipment rentals alone!

Programs: Learn something new, like origami, Spanish, or how to make homemade salsa. SJCPL even has author talks with some pretty impressive names: Jen Lancaster, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Isabel Wilkerson, to name a few. All for free. I’ve guestimated about $200 in savings from utilizing these free programs.

Databases and Courses: Okay, this one might sound a little boring, but hear me out because we all know that education can be expensive. There are so many resources for online learning with your library card. has online courses that are constantly updated, and you can earn certificates! I’ve taught myself some InDesign basics. It is hard to put a dollar amount on what I’ve saved using these Library resources, but an InDesign course alone can range from $20/month to $700/course. So my guess is it’s a lot.

Barbara is the Library’s Development Specialist. She’s a sometimes vegan, an avid magazine and non-fiction reader, and loves dogs more than people.

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