Ray Bradbury wrote the entirety of Fahrenheit 451 in a UCLA library because he needed an office but couldn’t afford one. As a passionate proponent of libraries, he’s frequently spoken at public libraries around the country.

In a 2009 interview with The New York Times, Mr. Bradbury said, “I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”

Considering the average cost of in-state public college is about $10,000 for the 2019-2020 year and about $37,000 at a private college, free education at the public library is an attractive alternative. All the knowledge taught at the university level can be found at your local library.

In addition to saving money on books, movies, and magazine subscriptions, libraries provide access to the knowledge and resources you need to advance in your career and make more money. If you intend on getting educated, whether you go to college or not, the library is an important resource to tap into.

Here are 6 ways your public library can save you money:

1. Books and Movies

Let’s start with the most obvious way libraries can save you money: books and movies.

Books, DVDs, streaming services, and other forms of entertainment can be expensive. Some libraries even post how much patrons save on their checkout receipts, such as the Wichita Public Library.

Just noticed that my library keeps track of how much you save by not buying books and borrowing instead from r/mildlyinteresting

A photo of a user’s library receipt showing a total savings of $7,078.76 went viral on Reddit recently. Keep in mind that these numbers are for a family of 6 that frequents the library.

The great thing about most libraries is that they have a feature called the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) that allows you to request books, articles, microfilm, DVDs, musical scores, and other materials from another library system. There may or may not be a shipping charge. Make sure you check your local library catalog before requesting an item through Interlibrary Loan.

And you probably don’t have to worry about late fees anymore! More and more public libraries are eliminating late fines to bring back patrons and alleviate inequity. Keep in mind that you’ll still have to pay for lost or damaged items.

2. Research Database

Did you know that your public library offers free access to a huge electronic database of articles, publications, ebooks and other texts? They have everything from JSTOR and EBSCO to PressReader and ProQuest. All you need is a computer and an internet connection, which the library also provides for free.

3. Online Courses

In addition to online databases, you also get access to online courses, such as Lynda.com (now LinkedIn Learning). You can learn everything from Excel spreadsheets and Javascript to strategic negotiation and photography. So don’t fork over any money for online courses until you’ve checked out what LinkedIn Learning has to offer.

Here are some other online courses and tutorials you may have access to:

Universal Class – offers hundreds of courses in diverse subjects, such as Gardening, Homeschooling, Law, Health, and Technology.

Pronunciator – provides a range of language-learning courses and resources, covering over 130 languages.

4. Live Tutoring

Many libraries offer live tutoring and homework help in a variety of subjects. Need help with an essay or math problem? Don’t give up — contact your local library!

5. Magazines and Newspapers

In the database section of your library’s website, you should be able to find access to digital versions of newspapers and magazines, such as PressReader.

6. Events, Workshops, and Various Programs

Check your local library for classes, clubs, activities, story time, workshops, and other events. This is a great way to get out of the house and have fun without spending any money. Local libraries normally publish calendars of events on their website.

You can find everything from board game and wellness clubs to music and foreign language lessons. You’ll be surprised by what you find.

Libraries are a great way to save money and expand horizons for anyone, but they are especially helpful to those sticking to a budget. If you’re in debt, don’t spend another penny on books, DVDs, online courses, or streaming services that you can get for free at the library!

Looking for more ways to save money and reduce debt? Contact DebtBlue for your free consultation.