Libraries offer a treasure trove of free resources – if you know where to look. From audiobooks and movies to news and music, a library card can replace many costly subscriptions.
This library card replaces pretty much every subscription service I might need. A library is more than just books and DVDs. It’s an interesting place with a lot of different things to offer. I think it’s super useful for people who want to cut the cord on subscription services eating our pockets.
I didn’t discover the library’s full potential until after college. I only went for school projects or occasionally as a kid. I spent my life overlooking libraries until after graduation when I needed something to do.
Coffee shops were my go-to, but $3-6 a day adds up. You can’t spend all day there either. What to do? I discovered the library. I signed up for a card, checked out books and DVDs like anyone else. But I wanted to learn everything I could do with my card.
The first discovery? Audiobooks and ebooks I could borrow for free.
Borrow Audiobooks and Ebooks for Free
I always have YouTube or podcasts on while cooking, cleaning, etc. I realized my library had a service like Audible called Overdrive. It let me borrow endless audiobooks at no cost.
While YouTube and podcasts have value, books undergo more vetting. For robust knowledge on a topic, books are best. But we can’t read books all day. By listening to audiobooks during my 20 podcast hours a week, I get the equivalent of 2.5 books.
I accumulated knowledge from curated nonfiction, saving high-level notes on index cards to remember key takeaways. Get a library card, download the app, enter your card and county. No email needed. It’s all through the library card – neat!
Borrow Movies and TV Shows
Next up: movies and shows, especially criterion collection films. Netflix doesn’t have everything anymore. Streaming platforms fill up with mediocre originals, zombifying our brains. Selections are lackluster.
Canopy’s streaming service has many Criterion Collection films – an aggregator preserving great movies. Disney bought Fox and shelves amazing old films. Over time, movies are lost. Criterion Collection is incredible. As a movie buff, Canopy is unmatched.
If you want quality entertainment, borrow free movies with your card instead of paying for streaming services.
Read Newspapers and Magazines
For news, published sources beat social media. Good publications have dedication and process that I prefer over Reddit or Twitter.
Some libraries have PressReader – aggregating tens of thousands of global newspapers. Mine has a subscription for local papers free with my card. For magazines, Flipster offers free digital access.
If you want news and mags, use your library card rather than paying subscriptions.
Listen to Music for Free
Surely libraries can’t replace music streaming? I didn’t think a library could offer a Spotify alternative, but Freegal Music proves me wrong. It lets you stream tens of millions of songs free with your card. Ditch paid services for free tunes from your library!
Borrow Museum Passes
Most libraries have museum pass systems. Sign up to access museums for free on certain days with a guest. Some even have seed libraries for gardening and tools available for borrow.
Professional notary services are free. Book rooms for meetings or study. Join a book club or writing group. Libraries offer activities and community.
Libraries as Third Places
With tightening budgets, “third places” to spend time besides home and work are disappearing – bars, cafes, theaters, malls. Suburbanization and the pandemic exacerbate isolation. Libraries can provide free communal spaces.
From entertainment to information to community connection, your local library offers a wealth of resources. Get the most from your card by utilizing these free alternatives to costly subscriptions. You might be surprised just how much libraries have to offer.