Raggedly Rich

Canadian Finances, Musings, and Art

Start Taking Full Advantage of Your Public Libraries Right Now!

For a minimal (or a non-existent, in my case) fee, you can enjoy the plethora of treasures that the local library has to offer. I love my library, and I’m keen to start using it to its fullest potential; for instance, I had no idea I could get the latest blockbuster from my library. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect from most public libraries:


first time reading this at 26 – great book

Isn’t that the primary reason for libraries around the world!? Books, books, books. Get a self-help stock book to better understand which options are available when you dip your toe into the stock market, or read the latest crime mystery novel. Recently, I even snagged a copy of Donna Tart’s ‘The Secret History’ from my local library in May, and it was stamped MAY 2017 on the cover. Brand new book! Considering the waiting list for that treasure, I’m fairly certain I’m the first person to be reading it too. (though there was a tear on the top of the cover page when I picked it up – I taped it, but it was still a little sad to see a new book already starting to get beat up. But, there’s nothing wrong with something that’s a little raggedly).

And if you find the endless shelves of library books overwhelming – you can either ask someone to help you narrow down your field of search, or you can hop on the computer and place a hold on your book. They’ll send an email (they used to call, but I think they’ve done away with that in this day and age), and you head down, go to the ON HOLD racks, pick up your book(s), and check them out. In and out, no hassle, no paralyzation from sheer scope of choices!

DVDs / Blu-Rays

Most public libraries have a selection of DVDs / Blu Ray’s that you can check out for 1-2 weeks. Not as long as they typical 3-4 weeks of the books, but it’s like your local Blockbuster (except it’s free! – and, you know, still around). I always knew there were movies there, but I looked up to see if they had the new blockbusters that just came out on DVD, and they do! I checked out what my library had in stock, and as of writing this up I’m:

#430 on 52 copies of Logan
#498 on 54 copies of Moana

And since you can only take them out for a week, it might not even be that long of a wait!

Free Printing

At least at my public library. You get a $5 printing credit every month (which doesn’t roll over), and you can load money onto your card for anything above and beyond that. Compare this to the printer I have at home, which is convenient, but extremely pricey to load up on ink – I’ll take the $5 free credit gladly. And, inexplicably, my printer also doesn’t know how to print in black and white if one of the colour cartridges is depleted. Which means you have to go out and buy, say, cyan, if you one single simple B&W page. I’m sure there’s a marginally logical reason for this other than baiting you into buying insanely expensive cartridges…

But if you just need a few pages, and you’re heading to the library already to pick up a hold, then you can pop on the computer and print while you’re there. Check out your library’s policy on scanning documents too – mine is free to scan to a USB stick!

Meeting / Study Rooms

leave me alone, I’m studying!!

Need a quiet, free place to work on homework or your financial story arc? Need a room for your community association, study group, or hockey team? I don’t know what other reasons you would need a meeting room for, but my library (and a few other ones in cities I’ve worked), offer free meeting rooms that you can book a month or two in advance. Most branches offer these spaces for free, but the prime location downtown has variable rates depending on if you’re a corporation, a non-profit group, or just a group of people.

At one point I was doing a community show that arranged to have a performance in two different meeting rooms like these – it was a bit of an unusual space, but the show was received well, and the library even gave us some free tote bags afterwards! I’m pretty sure that the show was somehow partially sponsored by the library, which brings me to the next point:

Programs / Classes / Activities

I’m so excited to take advantage of these things if/when I have kids. Libraries have a broad range of activities for any age-range: after-school study help sessions, story times, activity nights, kid-play areas, book discussion meetings, toddler time, lecture series, career coaching and resume services, citizenship and civic workshops, and the list goes on!

While I was a kid, I really only used the library for satisfying my book-fiend appetite; either these programs have become more prevalent nowadays, or I just didn’t notice they were around when I was younger. Make sure to check out the ‘Programs’ available at your local library. The program might only be available at certain branches too, so make sure you check the location before you sign up / register / drop in!

Computer / Laptop Use

Another fantastic benefit of my local library is that they have laptops that you can rent out while you’re in the library, as well as the typical bank of computers. Most places have a time limit for how long you’re able to rent these devices out (our is for the day), or use the computers for. You can surf the web, watch videos, play games, work on homework, write papers, attempt to write papers and procrastinate instead… I would suggest getting a USB stick if you’re planning on using library laptop/computers though, so you can easily access your files. Nothing worse than finishing the bulk of an essay on the computer and then not being able to get to it the next day!

(there’s almost always going to be free WIFI at the library too; if you have trouble connecting, there’s bound to be someone around who’ll help!)


In the age of technology, most libraries have adopted an ‘e-library’. Via the internet, you can instantly access music, movies, magazines, articles, studying resources, and books that load onto your eReader which will expire after the set loan time. A perfect solution for those homebodies who love their tech. You might have to drag yourself to the library to set up the card, but after that, you’ll have access to a large selection of material without needing to leave your home. Between ebooks and placing things on hold to avoid having to physically browse – they’ve made it incredibly easy to enjoy the perks of the library from home.

What do you use the library for? What’s the best thing you’ve discovered about your library?


  1. It always blows me away when I see people with debt buy books. It’s guiltless because books are knowledge and you can’t put a price on it. Um yes you can, the library’s free. The price is $0.

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      June 13, 2017 at 5:09 am

      It seems a little counter-intuitive — but!! Taking that first step is the important part, and the rest will fall into place. And I think the library frowns on highlighting and making notes in their books, if you’re looking to really study it 😛 We all gotta start somewhere – though, I agree, the library’s definitely a better place to start than a bookstore if you’re looking to save the $$.

  2. My wife and I use the library for books and ebooks. I love not having to leave my couch to get the latest ebook. My wife on the other hand loves to go to the library for playdates with our son and to read books, books and more books 🙂 We love it and it’s walking distance from our house which is wonderful.

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      June 13, 2017 at 5:14 am

      Walking distance! I’m jealous. I’m tempted to get an eReader for just that reason; I definitely employ the place-a-hold and pick-up method as of now (going to get East of Eden when I return The Secret History tomorrow!), but if my cousin’s lived anywhere near me, I’d be happily rolling around in that colourful kid-zone they’ve got. Love that your son’s getting exposed to the library, and thanks for reading!

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