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Local libraries have faded in prominence over the past few decades due to the rise of the digital age, but they aren’t done yet. While you can still check out physical books from libraries, there are lots of other perks you might not even know about (much like Amazon Prime has a few lesser-known benefits). Of course, among them are technology-related benefits.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can hit up a library to save money on tech. Note that your local library may not provide all these features, so results may vary depending on area, but most libraries are sure to have some of these great options just waiting for you to check out.
Use Library Computers
It’s easy to forget, but pretty much every library has a stock of computers that anyone can use to browse the web, check email, or perform other light tasks. Of course, these computers are going to be pretty locked down, so you won’t be able to run any custom software or get around restrictions (if the library staff is knowledgeable enough to place restrictions in the first place).
My heart wants a rose gold laptop but my bank account wants me to utilize the computers in the library
— 6789998212 (@Babychrisst) June 30, 2016
Some people might scoff at these, but if your computer recently died and you don’t have the money for a new computer (even a cheap Linux desktop) right away, you can still get by on the library’s machines for a while. If they keep you caught up on email while you save up for a new PC, they’ve saved you some money in the long run!
These machines could also come in handy if you’re on a limited internet connection and can only use so much bandwidth every month. Have a few days at the end of the month where using your computer or phone online would result in extra charges? Hop on over to the library and avoid those fees.
Print Without Hassle
Similar to using the computers, lots of libraries have printers that charge only a quarter or two per page to print. While you might dream of going paperless, from time to time you’ll probably need to print for some reason. Rather than buying a printer and paying for ink constantly, head over to the library and print out whatever you need.
Humiliation is: having to print a job application at the library and being ten cents short of the 60 cents price. #brokenprinterlife
— Julia Giantomasi (@TheSaltyJu) June 24, 2016
Some libraries also offer scanning or faxing capabilities, so you could completely avoid buying a scanner and save money that way, too. Also, remember that faxing can be done online with no machine for free, for those rare times you still need to fax.
Borrow Ebooks and Other Digital Content
Lots of people have gone digital and prefer to read ebooks instead of physical ones, and while there are pros and cons to both, you’ll be happy to know that most libraries now offer ebooks for borrowing, too.
Somewhere along the way I forgot I could get ebooks with my library card. Obviously summer break allows me to lift the fog off of my brain.
— April Watkins (@avwatkins) June 30, 2016
Check your local library’s website for information on the types of digital content you can borrow; one near me offers articles, audiobooks, books, magazines, videos, and music downloads. On college campuses, you might even be able to borrow video games. That’s a lot of great content that you don’t have to pay for — or even drive to your library to obtain!
Take a Technology Class
One of the best ways to improve your tech skills without spending anything is to take a class. While there are plenty of free resources and YouTube videos that can teach you the basics of anything, some might prefer an in-person teaching session to pick up the basics of tech skills.
Again, classes in your area will vary, but many of them teach basic tech skills like how to Google search effectively, how to stay safe online, using strong passwords, and the like. If you need some help, don’t pay someone to learn these — head down to the library and improve your knowledge for free!
Check Out Hardware
Particularly if you’re at a college or university, you should look into borrowing equipment from the campus library. Some offer cameras or other expensive tools that you can borrow for a short time instead of buying your own — so if you need to film a short video for a class or just want to try a fancy camera to see if photography is for you, you can greatly cut down the cost by utilizing the library’s resources.
Depending on how advanced your university is, you might even be able to utilize a 3D printer or other modern equipment without paying for it yourself. All you have to do is check out what your library has got.
Start Using the Library!
Are you convinced now that the library has plenty to offer, even if you don’t care about physical books? Take a trip down to your local library and have a look at their website to see which services they provide and how you can save money by using them. Libraries are around for everyone to use, so start taking advantage and cut tech costs down!
— Rebecca Faith (@RFaithEditorial) April 27, 2016
Which technology services does your local library provide? Are there any other techy ways to save using the library? Let us know how your local library stacks up in the comments!