April 8-14 is National Library Week, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate this time-honored American institution than by highlighting some of the ways your library can save you time and money. If you aren’t taking full advantage of all the resources your library offers, now is a great time to begin. Here are four ideas to get you started.

1.    Check out a book. It’s no secret that you can save money by checking out books at the library. But have you ever consider how much you might save? Let’s say your family reads an average of two books a week, and that each book—if you had to buy it—would cost an average of $10. Over the course of a year, you would save over $1,000 by checking out those books at the library instead of buying them.

If your family loves to read, that’s great news. But have you ever considered all the other resources your library offers—the ones beyond the bookshelves? Take library websites, for example. Many library websites offer links to help you…

2.    Learn a new language. Or calculate your mortgage. Or repair your car—all at the click of a mouse. Just look for a tab titled “research” or “databases and websites” on your library’s website. Click on the subject you want to explore, and start learning. Some library websites even offer a tab called “job site,” connecting you with resources on everything from writing stellar resumes to landing those first job interviews.

3.    Attend a library program. Most libraries do an amazing job of putting together a vast array of hands-on community events. My family has cheered jugglers, touched turtles, played didgeridoos and created aqueducts—all for free.

4.    Make a new friend. For me, the greatest resource at my local branch is the librarians themselves. These kind and helpful people have created custom programs for my homeschool group—free of charge. They’ve made personalized recommendations for my family’s reading choices and even greet me from the counter, ready to check out books I’ve placed on hold, as soon as I walk in the door. Talk about customer service!

So the next time you think your library is just a storehouse of books, think again. Take some time to explore the resources beyond the bookshelf. You never know what you might find.

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