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5 things to check out at the library (besides books)

Our family loves the library. We stop by at least once a week to grab a stack of books and a movie or two. For a while, that was the extent of our library interactions, but in the past few years, we have discovered that the public library can be a much bigger resource than we had imagined.

These days we take advantage of everything our local library has to offer, from programs and clubs to computers and classes. Plus, we have learned that there is way more to check out at the library than the typical hardback book.

Are you tapping into the full potential of your local library card?

5 things to check out other than books:

1. Cookbooks

I don’t know about you, but I have had to purge my cookbook library one too many times. These days when I want to try out a new cookbook, I get it from the library first.

That way I can try it out for a few weeks to see if it’s actually worth buying. This also works well for some of the more exotic cookbooks that you know you might only use once or twice.


2. Exercise DVDs

Sometimes I get bored of the same old workout routine, so it’s nice to be able to mix it up without paying for a new program.

Try using the online search function at your library to see what workout DVDs they have to offer, then simply place a request and pick it up when it’s ready.

3. Foreign Language Instruction

Depending on your local library, you can check out language-learning DVDs, kits, or even get free access to online programs. For example, our library in Texas is set up with Mango Languages which offers 60 foreign language courses we can take on our computer or smartphone.

5 things to check out at the library

4. E-books & Audiobooks

Did you know you can borrow e-books and audiobooks with your library card?

Simply go to to search for your local library. Once you’re set up, you can request the titles you want and they will be delivered to your kindle or phone, or wherever you have the app installed.

This is a great option for traveling. Your library might also be set up with Hoopla which offers the addition of video streaming.

5 things to check out at the library

5. Museum Passes

Many libraries offer passes to local museums and parks. Depending on the way your library sets it up, you might request free passes for a specific date, or be able to check out a Museum Pass for up to one week of free entry to multiple museums. This is a great way to experience local art, history, and science as a family for free.

These are just a few examples of some of the great things public libraries offer. I have heard of libraries loaning out everything from power tools to musical instruments, photo-editing software to fishing poles.

Every library is different and I encourage you to get familiar with yours. Who knows what resources you could be tapping into!

Reading Time:

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  1. Jennifer Coyle

    Wow- these are all great ideas! Exercise DVD’s make a ton of sense. But I’d never think that my library would have museum passes. Totally going to go check that out (library humor, har har).

    • Alysa Bajenaru

      Yes girl, check it out! 🙂

  2. Sarah M

    I use all of the above except had never heard of the museum pass…going to have to ask about that one!

    • Alysa Bajenaru

      Sounds like you are making good use of your library card. I bet you will find even more things to utilize now!

  3. Margie

    Love the library! My library also has Zinio which allows me to digitally check out magazines. I check out over ten a month, there are lots more available, and read them on my iPad. Best.thing.ever. because no magazine pile!

    • Alysa Bajenaru

      That is so nice! I need to look into that at my library.

  4. julie

    My sister lives south of Boston and her local library offers beach parking passes to check out in addition to museum passes. As you can imagine, it’s a very popular option so she finds it easiest to snag one during the week, instead of on the weekends.

    • Lynn K

      Our library also has access to lots of online databases such as consumer reports and Also don’t forget about special programming–in addition to story time my kids have also attended a comedy show, a teddy bear picnic with love music, a hip hop dance class, and a program on”ancient engineering” put on by the University natural history museum. All free! Not to mention great used book sales! We love the library!

      • Alysa Bajenaru

        That all sounds so great! I think our local library has an ancestry program too, I need to look into that more. Thanks for all the suggestions!

    • Alysa Bajenaru

      Oh wow, that is such a great perk. As someone who visits a lot of California beaches, this would be so helpful!

  5. Bonnie

    Our library in Colorado has passes to state parks! I love libraries.

  6. Julie

    We used to check out cookbooks from the library in Maine when we went on vacation since it is always a great time to try new recipes. Also puzzles! I have even heard of libraries who loan sewing machines. I am a total library fan. ?

    • Alysa Bajenaru

      Puzzles! What a great idea. And I would love to be able to check out a sewing machine, that way I wouldn’t have to have it in my house all the time.

  7. Shannon

    Pretty sure this post just changed my life haha. All the audiobooks and ebooks I can now get for free are overwhelming!!

    • Alysa Bajenaru

      Oh goodness, don’t get overwhelmed! Haha. Glad I could change your life 🙂

  8. KC

    One of our previous libraries also had a… I forget what it was called, but a thing you could plug in between an appliance and the wall to tell you how much power it was draining, so you could go around your house and figure out good solutions for things that were still draining power while “off” (like TVs or computer screens). But good luck finding out they had that unless you already knew to search for it! University libraries (and maybe some public libraries? who knows!) sometimes have devices you can check out, too; cameras, video cameras, laptops, etc.; great for projects or for trying things out. Many public libraries have scanning/fax and various computer facilities available as well – great for the just-starting-out small home business that hasn’t yet scaled up to needing all that. And then there are the income tax resources! I hope libraries never lose the Real Paper Books part, but they have an amazing number of non-book community resources as well.

    • Alysa Bajenaru

      Yes! I used the library a ton when I was first applying for jobs and getting my resume together.

  9. Hannah Beth Reid

    I love checking out ebooks from my library because it doesn’t require going to the actual library and it can’t be kept over the due date (you just lose access).
    When I was a child, our library had music CDs for check out. Many were classical or Broadway musicals, which I very much enjoyed!
    Has anyone heard of Playaways? They are an audio book on an MP3 player…you just supply your own AAA battery and ear buds. I have several friends who especially like them for young children because they are so easy to use with just a play/stop and volume buttons. And no CDs to scratch or lose!

    • Alysa Bajenaru

      I’ve never heard of Playaways but they sound like a great idea!

    • Susan V

      Our library has TONS of Playaways, and they have them for adult books too! A friend of mine who is a little older doesn’t want to mess with audiobooks on her phone, so she just gets the Playaway and goes for her daily walk with the Playaway in her pocket – they’re very lightweight!! 🙂

      I love being able to renew my books online, and if the library has a book I want, I just click “reserve” and they pull it for me and put it in on the Holds shelf. Then I can just run in and pick up my books! I love this! Our library also has iPads for loan!

  10. Kelly Mahan

    I love this list! Every week I drop by the library to see whats new but somehow I never checked out these things. Thank you for sharing these!

  11. Guest

    Our local library has tools and fishing poles (and I’m sure other things I”m not aware of) that can be checked out which I think is FABULOUS!

  12. Angie

    Our library (here in northern MN) also checks out fishing poles. ?

  13. Stacie @SincerelyStacie

    Our library in our town of 700 also has regular DVDs, puzzles, magazines, and cake pans like Big Bird, Strawberry Shortcake, Football, Cross, etc.

  14. mbmom7

    Our library checks out baking pans – it has dozens of Wilton and specialized baking pans for special occasions. The library also offers free notary public services, tax help in the spring, and tech tutors to help people learn how to navigate tablets, e-readers, computers, et al. It also has “book club” books – a box of multiple copies of the same book so you can do the book club thing without the expense. My library is awesome!

  15. Corby

    Don’t forget lots of free events and programs and our library offers free tutoring in any subject for kindergarten through 12th grade. Also free

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