Freeload At Your Library Like A Champ

Any self-respecting cheapskate knows the library is your one-stop shopping for free access to the internet, magazines, DVDs and drinking fountains.

Serendipity’s Guide To Saving pays tribute to the bountiful beacons of government-sponsored information. The blogger hits up the library for all her entertainment needs, including CDs that are just begging to be copied to your hard drive.

What’s your favorite way to exploit your local library?

Serendipity’s Guide To….Maxing Out Your Local Library! [Serendipity’s Guide To Saving]


Edit Your Comment

  1. AjariBonten says:


    • Gundy says:

      When I was a kid and our family drove all over Michigan we always looked for libraries for just that reason. They always had clean restrooms. Not like some of the gnarly gas stations around at the time.

    • creative differences says:

      the bathroom stalls at my library have sharps disposal bins for needles. glad they actually have bins instead of risking my health, but ummmmmm that’s how sketchy the bathrooms are. i would not use them except for an emergency!

  2. perruptor says:

    They have some other thing there, too… What was it again? There are a whole lot of them there…

    Oh, well, it’s probably something people don’t use any more.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      I think I have heard of these things you speak of. If I recall correctly, they are called “Dooks”.

    • InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

      Oh, I think you’re referring to the data they keep as DTFs (Dead Tree Format).

  3. You Can Call Me Al(isa) says:

    I’ve been doing this for years. I used to get DVDs from the library to make a copy for myself sometimes. I still get DVDs, books, and CDs (to rip to my hard drive), but I don’t make copies of the DVDs anymore.

    • bwcbwc says:

      You know if too many people do that, the RIAA-types will start lobbying to remove libraries from the fair use exemption. And they’d have some justification for doing so.

  4. bsh0544 says:

    We go to the library at least once a week. Kid gets a few movies which may or may not get watched, everybody gets books, hooray free entertainment. It makes me sad that libraries are getting hit by budget cuts.

    • outoftheblew says:

      I’m not sure it’s budget cuts so much as reductions in property valuations. Libraries are directly funded by a certain portion of property taxes (all laid out on the property tax bill … how much goes to the ambulance district, library district, general fund, school district, etc.). The county can’t arbitrarily cut the library’s budget, though the library will have to put together a budget based on a smaller amount of revenues if property valuations went down.

    • bsh0544 says:

      I’d also like to add that I wish libraries and ebooks had some sort of relationship. I want an ebook reader for the convenience, but I don’t pay $10 a pop for my books now and I have no intention of doing so in the future.

      • agardina says:

        I’m with you. I’d even settle for a Netflix-style system for ebooks, where a user could pay a monthly fee to rent books one at a time. Until then, I’m not going to pay for books that I wouldn’t fork over cash for normally.

        • jessjj347 says:

          I just designed a library kiosk similar to what you’re describing for a class lol.

          We included a queue for resources in addition to a ratings system, where you would be offered suggestions for things to check out similar to Amazon.

      • Billy says:

        THEY DO !!!

        I just found out yesterday that eReaders that use the ePub format can take advantage of loaned out ebooks from the library. Check it out here:

        This is a big factor for me wanting to pick up an eReader. Unfortunately, the ebooks are loaned out exactly like real books. That means you might have to wait until someone virtually “returns” a book before you can get it.

  5. Sajanas says:

    Since I realized that my county library system had a good online system for ordering up the books you want so they were waiting at the front desk for me, I haven’t needed to purchase a single book for myself. They don’t have everything, but certainly they have more than enough to keep me occupied.
    At one point I had a few races between Netflix and the Library to see which would get me a new release, and the library won every time.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      that’s what interlibrary loan is for. ask for it by name. i’ve got one en route from an out of state library right now

  6. Derigiberble says:

    Many libraries also offer ebooks and audiobooks via It is really great to load a couple audiobooks onto your mp3 player for a long trip.

  7. Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

    I’m surprised there’s no government-conspiracy nuts or people screaming about ‘useless government spending’ yet.

    • danmac says:

      For every dollar pointlessly spent on books, the liberal intellectual elite are saying they don’t care about our boys overseas. Heck, if we shut down half the libraries in our state, they could probably have their Burger King back.

      • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

        Pointlessly? Do you fear an educated public that much?

        Personally, I think that should be a bigger priority than a meaningless war that never should have happened.

    • mythago says:

      Libraries are popular, so usually they limit themselves to complaining that libraries waste money and shouldn’t have all those new-fangled DVDs because they compete with private industry, or some other garbage.

  8. ARP says:

    Libraries, like parks, are socialism at its worst


    • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

      Looks like I just needed to wait one post. Darn my impatience!

      • ARP says:

        Mine had the snark tag, so I think I only get partial credit.

        BOT- I used to find rare late 60’s and early 70’s soul albums at my public library. One of the advantages of being underfunded is that they kept their records because they really didn’t have enough CD’s.

  9. MamaBug says:

    which e-reader is it that you can load free books on from some libraries?

    It’s the books for me. Not spending money on books has saved me a ton of money. In fact, I have 5 books waiting on me today. The fact that I can renew my books and order books from other libraries to be delivered to mine online is a great bonus.

    Plus my local library has a great children’s section. My daughter loves to go and look at the bugs they have set in glass.

    • Doncosmic says:

      Anything that can load the .epub format can get free online books from most libraries. I use the Stanza app on my Iphone.

    • tbax929 says:

      My Nook can get books right from the library. It was the main reason I purchased it, and I love it.

  10. "I Like Potatoes" says:

    The writer of that blog entry actually said that Tori Spelling is one of her favorite authors.

    • mavrick67 says:

      Tori Spelling can write? . . . must be a picture book

      • sickofthis says:

        Unlike Serendipity, Tori Spelling probably at least has editors to keep her from using “your” when she means “you’re.”

        • johnperkins21 says:

          Agreed. It’s hard to take this blogger seriously when her grammar is so atrocious. If she’s such an avid reader, why can’t she write above a 5th grade level?

  11. Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

    The library in our city is closing next year. Instead of controlling rampant spending this is what the city leaders have chosen to do. I’m just sick about it and want to move. Never in my life would I have considered buying a house in a city without a library.

    • Brunette Bookworm says:

      Protest? And I’m being serious. Get people together to try and keep the library. Tell the county you will move without a library. I’d die without one (obviously, since bookworm is part of my name).

      • Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

        Actually, we are, and have been for quite some time. I’m not taking this lying down. But the idiots running the city are only out for themselves, its just sick.

        I own a small business and sell many books myself. I donated a large stack of brand new volumes for the Friends of the Library fundraiser and will continue to do so. Some people think its odd that a book seller would be in favor of a library where people can read books for free. Personally I think they go hand in hand.

    • ARP says:

      Are you still having your 4th of July fireworks and the parade that they keep telling you is a money maker, but never is? Did they provide huge tax incentives to the Wal-Mart or the local employer, who don’t really provide the anticipated benefits, so you end up paying taxes to keep people employed (almost like all the government spending so many here complain about)?

  12. MDSasquatch says:

    When my wife was in school working on her Bachelor’s Degree, we used the library and their inter-library loan services to check out most of her school books. Saved us A LOT of money

    • Gringa In Mexico says:

      I empathize with students about the cost of textbooks, but shifting the textbook cost to the library is not helpful to the mission of interlibrary service. Please, don’t encourage such behavior. It is harmful to interlibrary service in the long term.

      I managed interlibrary service for a major university library, and believe in the service with all my heart. During my tenure, I proposed and implemented a policy to refuse interlibrary requests for textbooks. The cost to a library for interlibrary service is not inconsequential. You may not realize it, but many libraries charge other libraries for lending, some as high as $25 per transaction. And the library incurs shipping costs and labor for processing. In addition, the demand for the most current edition of a textbook makes it very difficult (if not impossible) to locate an item. Couple that with that the number of requests for the same edition at the same time. And, continual renewal requests.

      Some students even refusal to return items until the course ends, calculating that overdue fines cost them less than purchasing the item in the first place (even at $1/day, which our service charged for late interlibrary service items). Late returns harms a library’s relationship with other libraries that lend to them. Some will block other libraries from future loans if the practice is repeated a lot.

  13. rahntwo says:

    Our library has all the Chiltons and Haynes auto repair guides which is much cheaper than buying each one

  14. Rube Goldberg says:

    When I was prepping for the LSAT and the GRE (not simultaneously), I just used the library’s collection of previous years’ prep books. The formats of the tests are pretty much the same every year so you get a whole bunch of practice tests without having to pay exorbitant fees for a class.

  15. Papercutninja says:

    our NJ libraries are getting nailed by the new state budget. The big thing that’s gone is the inter-library loan. If our library didn’t have a particular book, we could request it from another library in NJ. I got a lot of obscure how-to books, and my fiancee was able to get a lot of new-releases that way.

  16. temporaryscars says:

    What’s a library?

  17. Jevia says:

    I don’t know about CDs, but DVDs cost $1.50 to rent for 3 days at my local library. Not too bad, but Netflix is still more convenient most of the time, primarily because the library’s hours were cut and its hard to get there when its open these days.

    I used to get off work a little early on Fridays to pick up my daughter from daycare go to the library’s children’s section for an hour or so. We’d get 4 DVDs (3 for her, 1 for me). They used to have a promotion of “4 for Fridays”, 4 for the price of 2, and they were $1.00 each, so 4 DVDs for $2.00, and could keep them for a week, which made it convenient to return the following week. Then they increased the DVD price, stopped the promotion, shortened the rental period and closed the library earlier on Fridays, making it virtually impossible for me to get there before closing unless I left work very early.

    So we stopped going on Fridays and now just go once in a while on a Saturday (which as to be timed right because the library is only open 10-2) and maybe rent 1 or 2 DVDs that at least I can drop in the return box 3 days later on my way to work. If she wants the same DVD more than twice, I just try to buy it on ebay for $3 plus shipping.

    At least books are still free, and its easy to renew them on line for another 2-3 week period. I rarely buy new books anymore, except for a few select authors. So far, the library is keeping the inter-library loan, so I can request a book from any library in my country. But they keep threatening to shut that down too.

    • infohound10 says:

      that is crappy. The only reason I can think that the library charged for dvds is to re-coup the cost for stolen titles. Your taxes pay for the library.

    • BytheSea says:

      Write your congressman and representative.

  18. lohertz says:

    local library network. Here in Illinois most all the library’s are networked, meaning, if another library in the network has something you want, you make a request (on-line) and within a few days its there. So just about any CD, DVD, and yes book is at your finger tips. Also, The free wifi usually includes subscription content acces. And I’m not just talking Lexus Nexus, I mean like WSJ, and other stuff.

    • anyanka323 says:

      Illinois is awesome when it comes to libraries. I went to school at UIUC and interlibrary loan services were essential for my coursework. Of course it was the cherry on top that Champaign and Urbana had wonderful public libraries.

      I’ve lived in Michigan and South Dakota. Neither state compares to Illinois in terms of library service. I think what irks me the most about South Dakota is the 6 month embargo on lending new books. It makes sense for best sellers and high circulating materials for up to 3/4 months, but 6 months is excessive. I’ve tried explaining how illogical it is and that other states lend out new books to their patrons, but the library staff just doesn’t get it. Of course it would help if they got new books in closer to street date as well.

  19. csc3 says:

    i fking love the library. that is all.

  20. Theodore the Proud says:

    It’s a shame this girl didn’t get some help with her writing while at the library.

  21. Vinasu says:

    Our parish library is a FEMA trailer with a bunch of computers, out-dated encyclopedias and a few paperbacks. I once asked for interlibrary loan and got a blank stare. That’s why Amazon gets so much of my money.

  22. SoulOnFire says:

    Our county libraries are taking a huge hit from budget cuts. All of them close early on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I could never understand why a library would have short hours on a Saturday, when everyone can actually visit it. Anyways, support your local library!

  23. Caffiend says:

    I live where it gets very hot in the summer, over a 100 regularly. Our Library has incredible AC, and very comfy chairs. Nice to hang out with free wifi.

  24. Hoss says:

    Use caution on the library computer — lots of virus potential!

    • danmac says:

      Can’t be any worse than reading e-mail from my mother, who has just discovered how to forward things and is now on a personal mission to infect all of humanity with viruses, picture of puppies, pictures of kittens, feel-good religious stories, “stories” that are just something contrived to set up a stupid pun, comics of old women complaining about menopause, letters telling me that if I do not forward to 10 people, I will die, etc. etc. etc.

      • ellemdee says:

        My mother recently discovered Facebook. It’s every bit as traumatic as you can imagine. I’ve been trying to teach her the difference between my wall and a private message to cut down on the “I LOVE YOU” wall posts. She and my cousin have entire conversations with each other via status updates (which, of course, get posted to all of their friends’ pages).

  25. JulesNoctambule says:

    Our local library has no DVDs, no CDs, nothing like that. They do, however, have a coffee bar and allow people to eat anything they want in the library, including pints of ice cream and peel-and-eat shrimp. We haven’t bothered going there in over a year.

    • sickofthis says:

      I think you’re getting “library” and “mall food court” confused.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      wait, which branch is that? you’re in the north part of town aren’t you? i haven’t been to the fancy ones. my local branch doesn’t permit those sorts of shenanigans

  26. danmac says:

    Oh, how I love the smell of shellfish in the morning.

  27. ellemdee says:

    I love that I can view the catalogs of dozens of local libraries online and have the items I want send to the location of my choice. I’ve even checked out a textbook that was borrowed from a library 4-5 hours away, sent to my local branch for free. DVD’s are $1/day, so not really worth the trouble unless I rent on a Saturday, since they’re closed on Sunday.

    My library even offers lockers for after-hours checkouts. Just call & ask for your items to be put in a locker. They’ll check them out to you, place them in a locker, and let you know what the combo is for the locker (it’s unique to your checkout). I haven’t used this yet, but it’s a great system.

  28. evnmorlo says:

    DVDs from libraries are usually scratched to hell, and I’m not talking about children’s movies. Pirates are much more conscientious and upstanding members of the community than your typical anarchist/pervert library patron.

  29. infohound10 says:

    As a librarian I find these comments humorous — especially the post title. Libraries are paid for by you with your tax dollars — you are merely using a service you pay for when you go there. Most of you would not think of paying for a service you do not use but there are many who “forget” about the library.

    As for those of you who turn your noses up at the library — you might not be so quick to judge when, God forbid, you are ever in a place of need. Where else are you going to go to get internet to search for that job that keeps you off the street? What about if you want to start your own business and need assisitance? We have people for that. Wanna catch the newest DVD’s on a big screen for free? We do that. Starving student in need of test books? We have those. Gotta print that plane ticket and forgot before heading out? Let me help you with that. Hot/Cold outside and you want to get away? Come to our open arms.

    Yes there are some wierd people here sometimes. There are wierd people everywhere all the time.

    In the information age you need someone who will stand up for the freedom of information and access of that information. The library functions as that someone.

    Stand up for your library. You never know when you might need it.

    • ellemdee says:

      Every time I go to the library, I think “wow, I have to come here more often, I forgot how much it has to offer”. I recently went to the library just to work on writing a paper in a quiet, nondistracting environment. At lot of people have chaotic home lives and appreciate being able to use free wifi, ample table space, & power outlets for their laptops (or free computers to use) in a quiet air-conditioned environment. My library even offers free tickets to area attractions.

      It’s your tax money at work, people, use it!

    • mythago says:

      Seriously. “All the free books you can eat plus a quiet place for poor kids to learn, study and get homework help” is right at the top of the list of My Tax Dollars, Good Uses Of. People forget that in addition to saving us from having to buy a mediocre best-selling novel for $25, libraries are a huge force for mass education and, by extension, democracy.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:


      In this city, which mostly sucks, we have an original Carnegie library, which doesn’t. I so wish I had that kind of money; I would give massive bucks to libraries like Andrew Carnegie did. A large part of my childhood was spent in my local library. I even dream about it sometimes.

      Also, I tend to support the library with my late fines. I’m terrible about getting books back on time, but I always pay the fines. Except once, many years ago, I lost a library book while moving. Was too far away (and too broke) to do anything about it. So far the Library Policeman hasn’t come after me. Someday I’d like to replace the book if I can. You suppose it counts after this long?

  30. Transient says:

    Encouraging piracy, particularly when the linked article does not? Way to keep it classy.

  31. gnimsh says:

    My local library in Minneapolis provided lots of CDs that could be ripped to a computer and then used to help get a higher ratio on certain music sharing websites.

    I borrowed a ton of books the last year I was in Minneapolis, but since I’ve gotten my ebook reader I haven’t used it as much. The ebook system is rather stupid in my opinion (you have to wait til someone “returns” it, just like a physical book) and the selection is rather dull.

  32. Bkhuna says:

    What the hell do you mean “bountiful beacons of government-sponsored information”. Libraries are paid for by taxpayers. Give credit where credit is due.

    Those who aren’t paying their share of taxes should be required to at least give something back to those of us who provide them with free Internet, movies, magazines, baby-sitting, etc.

    Why don’t one of you come over and mow my lawn after you’ve dropped your daddy-baby off at the library!!!

  33. damageinc says:

    I stopped reading after about the 5th time she used your instead of you’re. I’ll read something you write when you take the time to proofread it. And if you’re too stupid to know the difference, then I don’t care what you have to say.

  34. bishophicks says:

    I’ve been using my library fairly extensively over the past 3 years or so. I haven’t bought a single book in that time and I’ve always had something on my nightstand. My library is part of a network and I think I’ve been unable to find what I was looking for exactly once in all that time.

    Some items to add to the list in the article:

    Inter-library loan – if your library is part of a network then you have access to anything in all those libraries. There are about 40 libraries in our network. It’s pretty hard NOT to find something.

    Museum passes – our library keeps sets of passes to local museums, aquariums, etc. If you plan ahead, you can take a family of four into the city, visit a couple of attractions and you’re only on the hook for food and parking.

  35. AnonymousCoward says:

    When I was a kid, I used to go to the library with my mom, and we’d check out paintings to hang over our mantle. The paintings could be checked out for six weeks, so every six weeks we’d take the bus downtown and pick out some new art.

    When I was about 10, she painted something herself, and we didn’t have to get art from the library anymore. I live in a different city now, so I don’t know if the Denver library lends framed art anymore. But that was definitely the most interesting thing I’ve gotten from the library.

  36. pyehac says:

    I once used my laptop to play a few games at the library. Even in a secluded place with your back against the wall, people will try to look at what you’re doing.

    The only bad thing about taking a computer with you there, is when you have to use the restroom. Since there’s no adequate place to wrap your kensington lock (a table leg is out of the question) I had to pack up my laptop, drag it with me into the stall, then set it up again.

    Oh, and free AC during the summer! Now, if they’d only have free wifi (or wifi in my local library, then I can just ask the librarians whom we’ve known each other for 15+ years for the key) then I’d be set.

  37. XTREME TOW says:

    SHHH! Are you people Nuts?
    If everyone finds out about this, you’ll ruin it for us “Real Freeloaders”!
    Periodicals, like Popular Mechanics, Sports Illustrated, Field and Stream, Guns & Ammo, American Rifleman, etc. all FREE! I save hundreds of dollars a year not having to buy them, they aren’t cluttering up my apartment, and I don’t have to toss them out when I’m done reading them!
    The downtown library looks (and smells!) like something out of a bad Sci-Fi movie. They wanted a copy of my rent reciept, etc. just to get a card. Several years ago, I was out in the suburbs to visit some friends. They called to tell me they were going to be an hour late getting home. No problem, I’ll just hang out at the local library for an hour. The place was clean, even the furniture. The “Hired Help” were very friendly and helpful. I told them I was just waiting for my friends to arrive home. The lady at the counter asked if I resided in the area. I told her no, and she said that if my friends did not mind, I could apply for a card using their address. A quick phone call to confirm with them, and 2 minutes later I had a card, good at all county libraries. I felt like an International Spy who just scored a stash of Top Secret Military documents! Unfortunately, recent budget cutbacks have severely restricted my access to a treasure trove of “Man-zines”.

  38. majortom1981 says:

    I work in a library. We have free wifi here, Blu-ray rentals, even have 360,ps3 and wii games to take out.

  39. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    my library has an online service for reference books. my friend was going on a road trip across the country so i downloaded the owner’s manual and repair guide for his car onto a flash drive. for free, from the library.
    also they have e-books. but not movies.
    and here’s a tiny sampling of some of the other things i wouldn’t have expected that can use online at their site or on the library computers

    ABC CLIO E-Book Collection Searchable E-book collection emphasizing history & literature with scholarly criticism of contemporary authors.

    Ancestry® Library Edition A genealogy resource which includes military, court, land, probate, vital and church records, directories, passenger lists and more. This resource is available on-site in Libraries ONLY.

    ArchiveGrid Search for historical documents, personal papers and family histories held in archives throughout the world.

    Auto Repair Reference Center Contains repair information for most major manufacturers and makes starting back to 1945.

    [oh look, how relevant!] Consumer Reports Full-text coverage via EBSCOhost. Search either by exact month and year, or within all years in database. Quick search guide available.

    Downloadable Media Library from OverDrive New and popular e-audiobooks from OverDrive that can be downloaded to your home computer and transferred to portable devices, such as an iPod or MP3 player.

    LearningExpress E-books This searchable e-books collection contains career guides, study aides, and test-preparation books. Use the link in the lower right corner to access the e-books.

    NC LIVE Media Collection An online collection of video programs produced for PBS. Coverage includes sciences, U.S. & world history, biography, current events, arts, children’s programs, and more.

    ReferenceUSA – CorpTech Access hard to find details on 285,000 executives at 95,000 high-tech companies, including international data.

    Simply Map Web-based mapping application to create thematic maps and reports using demographic, business, and marketing data.

    there’s LOTS more. but you’d never know if you didn’t go to the website

  40. Wolfie XIII says:

    Dating service! Hot single females with brains abound in the local libraries here.

  41. Michaela says:

    I check out audio books and download them to my computer. Of course, I delete them after I am done listenind…. >.> …

  42. Smultronstallet says:

    I freeload via the internet; I just check out books at the library.

  43. Carlee says:

    Our county libraries (pretty large system) has dvds that you can check out and then some new releases that you can check out for a fee. Or if you wait a while, you can check out those “new releases” when they are not so new and not have to pay the fee.

    I think the loan period is 7 days.

    I remember this other library that we used to go to (neighboring city, pretty rich) had a time limit of 3 days for the video (VHS) tapes. My mom thought it was too short of a time frame (especially since we only went to that library on the weekend).

    In the summer, when it would get extremely hot, we’d go to the library and soak up the ac :)

  44. Not Given says:

    We still have an original Carnegie library in my town.

    They were going to close the storefront library in the town where my mother lives and a bunch of people got together and run it now. They take turns being librarian and have gotten donated stuff to run it with.

    The town where my cousin lives, there is a community center and people leave their used books they don’t want any more and borrow or take others, no librarian, no cards.

  45. aradialady says:

    I’m a librarian in Australia an am amazed / appalled that US libraries are closing down or have to shorten their hours due to funding cuts. We have a standard that is recommended that the majority of libraries follow – recommending certain no. of opening hours per head of population, no. of qualified vs non-qualified staff, certain no. of books per head of population etc.

    I love where I work too because we don’t charge any o’due fees or charges to place items on request. We have great CD and DVD collection and have will be starting with Overdrive shortly (behind the 8 ball on that one).

    (Obviously) I think they’re great places to hang out too…..even if you don’t read, you can use the internet, watch a DVD, listen to CDs, flip through the magazines or newspapers, catch an author talk (often with food offered), listen to the storytelling activities or just generally hang out with your mates. My personal freebie at the library are the movie nights we have and audio books.