augusta free press news

An overlooked gold mine

Column by Daza Craig
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In these tough economic times, everyone is looking for ways to save and make the money stretch further. Clipping coupons, eating out less, growing your own vegetables are all excellent ways to economize. But many people overlook one the best ways to save hundreds of dollars each year – a library card! How valuable is that little plastic card with the bar code on the back? You might be surprised!

If you buy even a few hardback books a year, at the average price of $23 per book; you would save up to $100 if you borrowed these from the library instead. Even the average adult paperback can cost between $5.95 and $12. Do you have children? Children and young adult books average $21 each. We all know that it is important to encourage our children to read books, so even 8-10 books a year for your child could cost up to $200.

How about movies? The average DVD costs $13 to buy, $9 a ticket to see at the theatre, and $10 a month to rent from Netflix. You could save anywhere from $130 to $500 a year or more if you rented your movies for free from the library.

There are books on tape or CD for those long road trips or just commuting to work (average price $9.95). How about reading a book on Playaway where you can put the small MP3 player in your pocket and listen on headphones while you clean your house or mow your lawn. (save $15). The job is more fun and you have just read that new novel everyone is talking about. The library also has free music CD’s for adults and children for every musical taste from county to classical (save $9.95 each). For the children, there are great books and CD kits, puppet and book kits, computer games and more. You can save a bundle and try something new!

And then there is a great variety of programs that the library puts on every month -meet the author, puppet shows, story times and crafts for the children, mother-daughter teas, living local history, music concerts, poetry readings and more. Where can you find all that fun and culture at such a bargain – free!

The library also has free Internet service ($59/month) and even offers assistance and classes if you need a little help. Try calling your Internet service provider to ask what website to use to check land prices in a certain Texas county. Your librarian can tell you with no waiting for hours listening to canned musak.

Augusta County has a real gold mine of library services through the Valley Libraries Connection. With one library card, you can borrow materials from Waynesboro, Staunton or Augusta County (Fishersville) libraries or any of the branches or stations in Churchville, Middlebrook, Deerfield or Craigsville. You can borrow materials from one library and return them to another. If you don’t find what you want at the library nearest you, the staff will put it on hold and pull it off the shelf at another library and have it sent to your library where it will be waiting at the desk for you to pick up. No charge!

So what’s the catch? Well, you do have to return the items you borrow (three weeks loan for a book and one week for a movie) but they make it easy – book drops are at every location and even one at the Government Center in Verona. And there is a little matter of a fine when you are late – $.20 per day for each item. But the library even gives you a two day grace period and there is fine free week in April (all fines waved for National Library week if you come in and ask) and can your fines for the food bank to wave fines in November and December.

So let’s do the math and see what an average family of four could save in a year by using their library card.

10 Adult books $230
40 Children/young adult books $840
20 Movies $260
3 Programs $37
4 Books on CD $40
6 Music CD $60


Even if you had to pay some overdue fines, you would come out way ahead. Many families save a great deal more than this each year, so this estimate is conservative.

If you don’t have a library card, visit your nearest library and sign up. Read about a new hobby or a vacation destination. Sign up for the children and adult summer reading program (there are prizes!), browse the new book section for a great summer read, find one of those old classic movies and have a family movie night. Have fun, expand your mind and save money. It is the most valuable card in your wallet and no monthly bills – your library card! (Just remember to return what you borrow please so everyone else can enjoy it too.)

Daza Craig is the manager of the Middlebrook Library.