Your Local Library

by Phyllis Guth


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Why not start the New Year right with simple money-saving resolutions you can keep year round? Our family saves countless dollars every year through frequent use of our local library.

You are really blessed if you have a well-equipped, well-run public library in your community or nearby, especially when you consider the prices of new books, CDs and the like.

In Pennsylvania where we live, we also have access to other libraries in the state, a bonus, especially if, like us, you move to the suburbs but want to continue to use the library you've always patronized. To do so, we are required to hold a card for the library in our home community, which, although adequate, is far smaller than the one we're used to.

When our three sons were growing up, they loved the library's story hours and the summer book club. Sometimes, they offered a crafts class or puppet show.

Now that we're grandparents, I borrow The Sound of Music (Two-Disc 40th Anniversary Special Edition) and The Wizard of Oz videos for our grandkids. Next time they visit, I plan to have Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on hand.

Baby Einstein videos proved invaluable when our three-year-old grandson required help with his speech because they encouraged his participation. For pure entertainment, Thomas, the Tank Engine videos and books were his favorites.

My mother-in-law was an avid reader but unable to get to the library so I borrowed books for her on a regular basis. When my dad's failing eyesight prevented him from driving, I took out old movies for him with stars like John Wayne, Loretta Young, and Abbott and Costello, as well as the Hallmark Hall of Fame shows. They were all safe choices for someone accustomed to watching G and PG rated films.

While searching for DVDs for dad, I often found classics that my husband and I had missed, such as The Lion in Winter with Katherine Hepburn, Roman Holiday (Special Collector's Edition) with Audrey Hepburn and My Dog Skip (Keepcase), the latter based on a true story. I also discovered DVDs that had a limited life in movie theaters or went directly into video. Many proved to be delightful such as Just Desserts and At First Sight with Val Kilmer, based on a true story about a young guy regaining his eyesight. Several series intrigued us, including Ivanhoe starring Elizabeth Taylor and Robert Taylor and The Duchess of Duke Street, which was a BBC video.

To learn which of my favorite authors are coming out with new books, I rely on the Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble websites. For a quarter (a bargain when compared to the cost of buying the book new), I can reserve the books at the library so I don't have to wait as long to read them. What's more, I'm able to renew and reserve library books over the Internet.

Some libraries host meet-the-author events. Attending them is a good way to broaden your horizons while spending an entertaining and educational hour. For one local librarian, persistence paid off when she snagged appearances by David Baldacci and Carol Higgins Clark, when they were going to be in the area for a book tour.

A close friend who drives frequently between her Pennsylvania home and her New Jersey shore cottage borrows tapes of Mary Higgins Clark's and Lisa Scottoline's mysteries for the trip. My brother relies on recordings from mystery writers James Patterson, John Grisham, and David Baldacci for his travels between his home state of Pennsylvania and Maine where he now lives.

If you're fortunate enough to work close to your library, you might want to borrow books on your lunch hour or use the computers there if you don't own one or have Internet access at home. You might even be able to buy a few nearly new books or CDs. Our library has a section of used books, CDs and tapes for sale and I've occasionally found bargains: Roger Whittaker, Percy Faith and Jerome Kern tapes at $1 each.

Add up the cost of movie going, buying new books, DVDs, CDs and audio tapes and you, too, will realize how much you can save by using your local library.

Take the Next Step: Visit your local library. There's something there for everyone. You'll save countless dollars every year if you frequent your local library.

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