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It’s Not Your Mother’s Public Library

Public Library

While the term “public library” may bring up an image of an old building full of books, staffed by a dowdy woman bent on keeping everyone quiet, today’s public library holds much more than books and can be an invaluable resource. Using your library card rather than your credit card could save you hundreds of dollars. This post contains some of the resources available from the public library in the suburbs of a medium-sized city. While the offerings of your library may be different, a review of library websites in different-sized towns across the country indicated that the offerings were similar.


Yes, the library still deals mainly in books; but did you know that not only can you get the books your library owns, but also books from other libraries via inter-library loan?


Instead of paying for Netflix or heading to the RedBox, get your weekly (or even daily) movie fix at the library. While you may have to wait to get the latest, newest release, the library has a variety of movies in just about all genres except pornography. Not only can you check out DVDs (or even some old VCR tapes) you can download movies online.

E-Books and Audio-books

Most libraries now offer some type of e-books and audio-books for check-out. You can probably access them from the website using your library card rather than a credit card. While the selection is not as wide as Amazon’s, and while you may have to wait your turn to get a particular book, libraries realize that people are using tablets and e-readers and are attempting to meet the demand for e-books. You may even be able to check out an e-reader.

Digital Magazines

Besides the hard copies of recent magazines on the shelves at the library, the website of my library offers patrons the ability to download digital copies of over one hundred magazines.


The library may still have old records of classical works, and has CDs for check-out. The website may have music you can download and keep either for a time, or in some cases, permanently. Ours has a streaming service as well.

Reference Databases

If a Google search does not provide the information needed, try the reference databases on the library website. You can find legal forms, car repair manuals, reference books and more on the library website. You may be able to search newspapers and news magazines across the region or the country from one search box. Academic journals are there, as are investment resources like Morningstar reports and Value Line,

Educational Resources

K-12 students can get online homework help via the library website, including a live online tutor. Those who want to learn a foreign language can do so via Mango. Lynda.com offers video lessons on a variety of subjects including most business software. Individuals can purchase monthly memberships to Lynda.com for about $25.00 but the library offers access at no cost to the user.

Take a few minutes to peruse your library’s website and you may find that they have services you could use, are paying for with your tax dollars, and did not know were available.

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