Family of Four Taking Flight to Financial Independence

FI: Do You Take Advantage Of Your Local Library?

The FI (Financial Independence) community are big fans of local public libraries.  You can borrow items and not pay a dime (if you follow the rules)?  Community programs are free?  A free community space?  Well, who wouldn’t be?

We’ve been fans of the public library even before we found the FIRE (financial independence retire early) community.  Besides the fact that you are able to borrow books and other items, we took advantage of public programs such as Storytime and other children’s programs since our children were infants!

But it is always surprising to me when people don’t utilize their public library ... (especially if they have transportation to their library, or they don’t have other obstacles).  Maybe they don’t realize everything public libraries have to offer?  And on that note, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about our City Schooling adventures and plans, and I need to find out what our public libraries have to offer (besides what we already use!).

Books we picked up at the library today.

Let’s dive in!  (Note, public libraries / public library systems may have different offerings in person and on-line ... and yes, there may (or should!) be changes due to COVID-19.  But maybe this will inspire you to dive into your local library more).

You may not have to live in the same city / county as a local library to get their library card.  Did you know that?  Check with one near you.  The ones we’ve used most frequently (because of our location) are the Harris County Public Library, Brazoria County Public Library, and the Friendswood Public Library.  Last I checked, you didn’t have to actually be a resident of two - Harris County Public Library and the Friendswood Public Library.

You can check out BOOKS!  Okay, this IS a big, duh.  But it is still a big / the main reason why we frequently use our public library.  And I am not sure some people realize the power of all of the books you can check out.  I’ve joined several social media groups related to schooling at home / non-traditional schooling, and they are being inundated with “new to Homeschooling” ... I’m shocked that some people are looking for free / affordable access to books - your library is what you need!  (Now I do realize that some libraries may not have as great access as others ... or perhaps they want to have a collection on hand that they own).

We check out adult books, children’s books, and books in Spanish for the kids.  In fact before we were locked down because of COVID-19 in March, I made sure to go to our local library and stock up on a bunch of books for all of us.

Search engine on the library website not great?  Not sure what you are looking for ...?  I often utilize the good ol’ Internet to find some ideas (especially for Spanish books!) before I search the library website.  I’m guessing most public libraries have the ability to request books on-line and pick up at the library (or in our case because of COVID-19, there is also a curbside option for pick up).

You can check out MORE than books.  We haven’t had cable in years ... (and this is usually one of the first things cut for those in the FI community).  We do have regular TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+.  But we’ve been able to check out recent movies, HBO shows, and network TV shows that we haven’t been able to see (and more!).

We’ve also checked out read aloud DVDs for the kids.  But did you know that your public library may offer more than the obvious ...

You may be able to check out all kinds of things (games, sewing machines, camping supplies)!?  I know one of our local libraries offers items such as games, items to borrow for your home (like sewing machines, baking supplies, power tools), and items to borrow for outside of your home (yard games, camping supplies, and more).  What may your local library offer?

So what else ... ?

You can participate in programs for free!  Okay, yes ... basically all or most libraries (in the US in major metro areas ... I am guessing?) have their programs on hold due to COVID-19, but they will eventually come back.  Right?!  We’ve mainly taken advantage of programs geared towards kids ... ever since the kids were babies - anything from Storytime to Open Play ... to special Summer Programs (Summer Reading Program!) / Guests / Performances and Makerspace afternoons during the school year.  What programs have you participated in?

Free meeting space.  I’ve loved using our local library as a meeting space.  You can actually reserve rooms (for studying or meetings), but we’ve mainly just used their regular tables as a meeting space.  We’ve used the library as a space for Spanish tutoring in the past - it’s free (unlike a coffee shop where you need to buy something to stay), quiet, plenty of room, generally safe, and you can check out books / items while you are there!

I’m sure there may be other perks to the library, but those are the big ones that come to mind.  How else do you use your library?  And what about on-line resources?  This is my weakest point as far as what opportunities there are on-line.  But since we are doing City Schooling this Fall, I should definitely know what is available.  Since we will be living in Harris County, I am going to dive into what may be available with their library system (Harris County Public Library).

There are many resources available under Ebooks and On-line Resources.  Let’s look more closely at the ones they have available that may be of most interest to us:

Harris County Public Library Overdrive Collection: Download ebooks, eAudiobooks, Digital Magazines, and Stream Video.  This one looks like one we will definitely use for adults and kids, and they seem to have a great Spanish collection also.  I’m going to star the ones that may be of most interest to us so that I can come back to them.  *

Rb Digital: Download audiobooks.  We aren’t as big right now into audiobooks so I am not sure if we will use this one (but that could change).

Kanopy: Streaming video service that focuses on critically-acclaimed documentaries, foreign films, and classic cinema.  This one may not only be of interest to us (adults), but it could also be a great resource for City Schooling.  *

Freegal Music: Access to songs and videos.  Another possible great resource for City Schooling (performing arts!).  *

Flipster: Magazines.  I need to look at this one more closely to see what they have available.  It may be of interest to me, and if there are kid titles available, it may also be good for City Schooling.  *

Tumblebooks: Electronic books for children in English, Spanish and French.  Another great resource for the kids!  *

EBSCO eBooks: 1,000s of books online that can also be downloaded.  This could be another great resource for adults and kids depending on what is available.  *

Wow, there is also an extensive list of research databases.

Biblioteca Tumblebook: Looks like this has even more Spanish resources for the kids.

Biography (Gale in Context): Information on people throughout history and around the world.  This isn’t necessarily geared towards kids, but I may be able to use it to prepare some of our history learning.

Credo:  This provides general reference resources such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, videos, images, and maps.

Explora: Research resources for students: books, magazines, journals, videos, and more.

Handbook of Texas Online: Articles on Texas history, geography, culture, and more.

Middle Search Plus: Research resources for Middle School and High School students.  Our oldest is not quite middle school, but some of the resources may be good for him.

Novelist K-8 Plus: Reading suggestions for fiction and non-fiction for readers in grades K-12.

Play Index: Information on classic and contemporary plays and playwrights.

Primary Search: Research for elementary school students.

Read the Books: Access to area school reading lists and specialized searches of books for kids.

Teaching Books: Resources to support reading for K-12 students.

TOPICSearch: Information on social, political, and economic issues that are popular subjects for student projects and reports.

World Factbook: Information on World Entities provided by the CIA (history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, transnational issues, and more).  

These resources above are just some of the ones listed on the Harris County Public Library page.  I listed the ones we were more likely to use.  Check out their page for more (or your library’s resources)!

So there you have it.  A snapshot of some of the perks of your local library.  Do you use your local library?  What do you use it for?  Does your library have any perks I didn’t mention above?

Looking for our latest financial post?  Read Erik’s post here.

Need assistance reaching FI?  Read more here!


No comments