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Free Resources in Your Community

Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest.
– Lady Bird Johnson

Pssst…I know where you can find free resources in your own backyard.  Oh, and by the way, it’s National Library Week.  When is the last time you visited your local library to make use of its many resources?  I meet a lot of people struggling financially and they wonder where they can get cheap entertainment, learn new skills, figure out the steps for starting a business or work toward a career change.  Your local library can help with all of these things.  Many people think of libraries and envision lots of old dusty books, but libraries have so much to offer and these things are free.  You really can’t beat that.

I have a warm place in my heart for libraries.  Reading has been one of my favorite things to do since I can remember.  As a child, I would pull out a flashlight after my parents turned off the light so I could continue reading into all hours of the night.  I loved to watch Reading Rainbow on PBS.  I would watch as LeVar Burton would introduce me to new books and me and my Mom would head to the library to see which ones I could check out.  But somewhere between childhood and adulthood, I forgot about the library.  Whenever I needed a book I would visit Barnes & Noble or order books off of Amazon.com.  When I rediscovered the library and all it has to offer, I wondered how I had been without it for so long.

Libraries are great sources of free entertainment. Reading is expensive!  I try to avoid buying hardcover books because of the price but even paperbacks can add up.  Much like coffee or cocktails, spending a couple of dollars here and there can do serious damage to your budget.  The library allows you to feed a reading habit for free.   But you don’t have to love books to get some use out of the library.  Many libraries have great DVD collections.  I’ve been able to cross recently released movies off of my Netflix list because I was able to pick them up at my local library.

Libraries are a great source of free classes and information. Libraries are continuously holding workshops, seminars and classes on finances, home buying, investments, etc.  Libraries are offering help with career guidance, resumes and job-searches.  They also provide resources to small business owners.  I went to several classes on starting a business at the New York Public Library and it allowed me to learn a great deal about being a business owner.   And I have personally taught personal finance classes at the Brooklyn Public Library.  If you feel like you’re lost when it comes to investing your money, check and see if your library offers any classes.  Even if their aren’t any classes, they will most likely have a variety of books on the subject.  If your library is offering classes and information that would be helpful to you, don’t ignore such a great resource.

Libraries are a great source of free space. Starbucks and coffee shops have become home offices for many small business owners.  But your local library is also a great place to get work done and you don’t have to feel compelled to spend $3.00 on a cup of coffee.  I’m guessing that your library has computers, free wi-fi and lots of space for you to sit quietly and work or study.  We too often think that libraries are the domain of school children and college students.  But your library may have plenty of resources for you.   You may even be able to reserve an office or conference space in your library.  I’ve reserved a room at my local library in order to meet with clients on several occasions.  It’s clean, free and quiet.

The bottom line is that libraries have many great resources that are available to the community. If you’re looking to get a lot of information at no cost, the library is a great place to start.  If you’re on a tight budget with it comes to entertainment you shouldn’t ignore your library.  And if you have a little money to spare, don’t forget to donate to your library.  Libraries are an important part of our communities and have a lot to offer to anyone who is interested.

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