If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I am a huge fan of Amy Poehler and her show Parks and Recreation. I take the worldview of Leslie Knope on several things in life and find inspiration, joy, and perhaps painful recognition in various aspects of her life portrayed on the show, but there is one HUGE point on which she and I vehemently disagree:
I am OBSESSED with the library. I have been since I was young and thought it was the greatest thing in the world to get a library card. (Nerd alert and proud of it!) And since becoming an adult, and especially a parent, the library has become an even more fantastic resource than it was before. Aside from having fabulous books to check out, (which is good because my child is as obsessed with reading as I am!) here are a few wonderful ways to use the library to help you save money:
SUMMER READING GOODIES like FREE FOOD:
I can’t speak for all public libraries, but here in Phoenix, the summer reading program was not just for kids, but for adults too! I signed up my son and my nephew as well as myself and all three of us ended up earning free food! Free kids meals for the littles and buy one get one free coupons to chipotle for the adults. My son and I also earned a free book to keep! The children’s selections were really impressive this year and we chose Peekaboo Sophie which has quickly become a favorite. I can’t wait until my son gets old enough to get excited on his own about the summer reading programs.
BABYTIME/ EARLY LITERACY CLASSES:
In the meantime, we take full advantage of the baby time classes offered at our local branch which my son LOVES and looks forward to each week. These classes are a HUGE money saver as they do a lot of the same activities that a baby playgroup or music class would do only without having to pay any tuition. This program has helped my son’s social skills and also helped me spot and encourage his love of music. His very favorite part of each week is when they get to shake jingle bells to a song. He loved it so much we got him his own set for his birthday. There are also a lot of great parent resources shared each week as well. I recomend this to any new mom in the area. At our branch, there is a group for birth-crawling babies and a group for walkers-age 2 and then there’s a toddler time for 2-4 year olds!
CULTURE PASSES: I can’t believe I didn’t know about these when my husband and I first moved back to the area, because we would have had so many dates centered around them! As it is, we have definitely used a few for great family outings. Culture passes are free tickets to local museums and attractions that would otherwise be out of our monthly budget or would require us to face huge crowds for First Fridays or other free admission days. We have used a culture pass several times in the past year such as getting into the Phoenix Art Museum on my birthday which provided these wonderful memories:
We also managed to snag one of the more popular passes to explore the AZ Science center. My son isn’t quite old enough to want to go there often enough to merit a membership, but he found PLENTY to love and interact with when we went with our culture pass, such as the weather section and a giant architecture exhibit where he got to play with huge foam blocks. The giggles were amazing and we had such a fun family day there!
EBOOKS AND AUDIOBOOKS:
I know this is close to regular books, but thanks to smart phone apps, you can take advantage of your library’s catalogue without ever having to leave the house (as long as you have an active library card!) I was just recently introduced to Overdrive which is the app I’m using to listen to audiobooks (currently listening to Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking per a recommendation of several friends in the last month or so and loving it…) and am excited to download some ebooks once our schedule calms a bit.
*Updated August 2017: I found out this summer that some public libraries also do seed sharing! We took advantage of this for our 2017 fall garden!
So check out some of the amazing work your tax dollars are doing and show your local library some love! I know it will be a regular part of our routine for years to come.