We are all faced with trying to find ways to cut back on our non-essential spending during these difficult economic times. Since I love to read I have had to be more careful about purchasing books, magazine subscriptions and other media items like DVD's. OF course I am a HUGE fan of the public library, and am blessed to live where we have a terrific selection of items at our library. This is my number one source for all of the above. The nice thing about the library is you can try new authors, new genres and movies you might not have seen otherwise because they are free. If you don't like them, you haven't lost anything. I have discovered some great authors simply by browsing the shelves of the local library. I have also found TV shows that I didn't watch when they were on, that have now been released on DVD, and discovered some real gems that way. I encourage you to make your local library a regular part of your life.
Another wonderful thing I have found at my library are the free programs they offer. They have everything you can imagine - from classes and lectures on every theme imaginable to live music and plays. Most of these are completely free, and if there is a charge it is usually very nominal, a few bucks at most. You can learn how to make jewelry, all about another culture, see a Shakespeare Comedy or listen to Do-Wop music under the stars! If you have little ones, just about every library offers a "story time" for the kiddos - a great way to get them interested in books and reading, even before they are old enough to actually read!
Reference Librarians are another great resource of your membership. They can help answer questions on a variety of subjects and point you in the right direction for finding information on whatever you might be interested in. When I first started blogging, my local reference librarian was able to find many books not only blogging, but also on the social networking sites, like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Any books they didn't have at my branch were simply ordered from another branch and sent to me. He even had some ideas for books that I would never have thought of, many of which have helped me a lot.
Lastly, our library system offers free passes to some of the major museums in our area. Because I live just outside NYC, that means I can get into many of the major museums in the country, like The Museum of Natural History, The Museum of Modern Art, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. With the cost of admission for a family easily reaching over $100, this is a big savings and a cultural goldmine. Check with your local library to see what types of passes they might offer for local cultural attractions nearby.
The best part of all this is the library card, completely free, and in the words of a certain credit card commercial we all know, "PRICELESS" !