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5 Unexpected Money-Saving Items You Can Check Out From the Library

Smiling Young Woman Using Tablet In Library

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Labor Day weekend featured some beautiful weather in my area. My husband and I wanted to make the most of it, so we drove to a local nature preserve to hike around in the sunshine. When we approached the welcome booth, rather than fork over $20 for our entrance fees, we handed the attendant a DVD clamshell case and got to enter for free.

It sounds silly, and I definitely felt goofy at the time, but the attendant cracked open the case to scan the membership card held inside before waving us through. We were on our way to enjoying six miles of maintained hiking trails along Lake Michigan without a single cent taken out of our bank accounts — all thanks to our local library.

Like many libraries, our local branch has a wide variety of items that can be checked out beyond just books and other media, including many options for experiences in our city that would otherwise cost us money. Entrance passes to the nature preserve are just one of them, and I’m now inspired to see what other cool things I can try. Here’s a look at a few items I was surprised to learn I could check out from the library.

1. Art museum admission

Heading to a museum is an enriching activity any time of the year, but it can be especially enjoyable on a cold or rainy day, which I know I’ll be getting a lot of shortly. Entrance to my city’s art museum costs $22 for adults and $17 for seniors and students over age 12.

If you’re trying to come up with an entertaining activity for your family, a day at the museum can be an expensive prospect. But checking out the museum pass from my library can provide free access for up to four people, potentially removing an $88 burden from your personal finances.

2. GoPro video camera

Maybe you have a big trip coming up that you’d like to document, or your child has to put together a presentation for school that requires a video component. If so, the library has your back.

My branch has a GoPro available for anyone interested. Similar cameras cost hundreds of dollars to buy, so if you’re only planning to use a camera in limited instances and can plan ahead to check it out, the library is likely the way to go.

3. Musical instruments

I assume I’m not alone in daydreaming about picking up a new artistic hobby from time to time. Perhaps you think you’d turn into an amazing songwriter if you just knew how to play an instrument, but you’re worried about charging an expensive instrument on your credit card when you’re not even sure if you’ll follow through on your new hobby.

Believe it or not, the library can help you out there, too. My local branch offers acoustic guitars and ukuleles to borrow free of charge. By checking one out, you can test out your musical abilities and discover whether it’s something you really want to pursue before spending a bunch of your hard-earned cash.

If you’re not so musically inclined, take a look at the crafting options your library offers instead. Scanning my branch’s list, I see sewing machines, bath bomb molds, and weaving looms available.

4. Yard and party games

Are you planning a big end-of-summer bash and want to be sure your guests stay entertained? Before you head to a big-box store to buy a bunch of games and toys you may not get much use out of, take a peek at your library’s options for fun activities you can check out.

My branch has a wide variety to choose from, including a karaoke machine, a badminton set, cornhole boards and bags, and a giant Jenga tower. I’d much rather check these items out for free than spend a bunch of money on them and then have to store them somewhere in my house.

5. Projectors and screens

Whether you’re a movie buff or sports fan, you’ve likely encountered a time when your viewing experience would have been improved with a larger screen. It may seem unlikely that a building filled with books can help you in that situation, but the library is full of surprises.

My branch offers a variety of projectors, DVD player/projector combos, and projector screens to choose from. Based on a quick online search, an affordable projector and screen combo could set you back $100 at a minimum. That’s an expensive investment if it’s not something you plan to use very often.

Everyone, to the library!

I’ve loved going to the library ever since I was a kid, but in the past, I’ve only ever left with stacks of books in my arms (or digital stacks of e-books in my e-reader). I’m so grateful my husband stumbled across this new-to-me collection of items that we can check out. It opens up a whole new set of experiences that will allow us to explore more of our city and enjoy more of our time, free of charge.

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