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Local Libraries Still Innovating

This article was written by in Frugality. 6 comments.


During previous economic downturns, publications have offered done stories about saving money by borrowing books, music and movies from the library. This is true not only in recessions, but every time you want to save some money. Libraries aren’t just for research; they have plenty of entertaining material as well.

But of course, they suffered from a problem that many bookstores didn’t: if a book was popular, you’d have a hard time finding a copy. It’s the 21st century now, most things have been digitized, so a perfect copy of anything shouldn’t be hard to find.

Well, with actual books printed on paper, you might still have to wait to get a copy of a popular title, but we recently found that our local library system is partnered with a service that enables it to offer digital downloads to anybody with a library card.

What’s more, it looks like this service, called “Overdrive” has partnered with many many libraries throughout the world. Search their site to see if your library is offering this sort of thing. And if necessary, pick up a library card. They’re not expensive, I promise.

Updated September 8, 2011 and originally published January 28, 2009. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Smithee formerly lived primarily on credit cards and the good will of his friends. He is a newbie to personal finance but quickly learning from his past mistakes. You can follow him on Twitter, where his user name is @SmitheeConsumer. View all articles by .

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Grant Baldwin

I’m a big fan of our local library. I’m sure like most library systems, you can search the database and place holds online. It’s rare that I purchase a book, unless I’ve skimmed through it at the library to make sure it’s worth the expense.

I haven’t heard of “Overdrive” before though, so I’ll have to check it out. Thanks!

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avatar Bill

The library is socialism that you already pay for. You can get books, books on tape or CD, and movies, but they usually offer much more. They often have computers with high speed internet access. At my local library I can get Free (yes free) passes to the Aquarium, many museums and historical sites. In addition they frequently have singers, writers, and miscellaneous famous people as cultural opportunities (and usually free or very cheap).

Is this in New York or LA??? No my town has 16,000 people.

The library in the town where I vacation (pop. 2400) has many of the same things except on a smaller scale. So the library is more than just books for cheapo’s like me.

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avatar Craig

That’s a great idea that more Libraries or book stores even should do. One of the reasons I don’t get books from the library is because the book I want is never in, they only have a few copies. With this, I could just print out the book I want, I’d even pay to do that since it would be less than buying a hardcover book. Maybe that will be the next thing to happen. Print them out as e-books.

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avatar RJ

Our Library has a similar system, but newer books are not available. However, they do have many audio books available online, which is nice for a commute.

Good to know that libraries are getting a little more technological.

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avatar thomas

I think it’s great that they are starting to offer digital versions of books.

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avatar KC

Many people don’t realize all of the entertainment opportunities available at their public library. I used to manage a branch in the 14th largest library system in the country. The central library was heavy on research and had most anything you could want (including more popular items), but the branches were real treasures. I’d say 90% of their usage was for popular entertainment. DVDs, CDs, popular book titles in print and traditional audio (as well as downloads available on-line). Usually there was a charge for DVD and audio, but it was much less than commercial outlets. But this will vary from system to system as all library system are subsidized differently.

I haven’t worked in a library in over 3 years, but many of these technologies have been in place for quite sometime – libraries just don’t have large marketing budgets to let their users know. In Memphis we were offering Overdrive audio 4 years ago. So if you know about them you may be one of few. Spread the word around – the more usage your library has the more gov’t funding it will receive.

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