I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like free stuff. So here’s a list of some things that you may not have known you have access to – for free!
Not only do most localities offer free access to books, but many now offer physical copies of audiobooks, CDs, DVDs, and more. The best free thing many libraries now offer: free digital content. My local library (for free) offers ebooks, digital audiobooks, magazines, and database access. Check out apps like the Overdrive Media Console (for ebooks and audiobooks) and Zinio (for magazines) on your tablets and phones. Cnet offers a great brief guide on Zinio for libraries here. Many libraries also offer you access to databases, like Encyclopedia Britannica and Ancestry.com – for free. Check out what your local library has to offer and save some major money on digital content!
Have a college or university nearby? Little known fact, but many university libraries are in fact open to the public. Many allow you to do research on site (using both physical and digital resources) for free and some offer guest access (for a small fee) to check out content. Most libraries are also part of interlibrary loan (where you can request content from nearly any library nationwide: your local library requests, obtains, and checks it out to you and you return it at the predesignated time to your local library). Many people (university students included) don’t realize that such a service exists, putting entire libraries from universities around the country at their fingertips – all for free.
Hopefully many of you frequent Google Scholar as a starting point for research. Did you know that during a search you can easily see what content is available for free? On the right side of each article, Google selects a location (if available) where you can access the content searched for free, often as a PDF or HTML file, highlighted in blue. If you are logged in to database access (through local or university library systems) Google automatically shows you how to access that file via your library’s subscriptions as well. Helpful, no?
Project Gutenberg & Amazon.com:
Project Gutenberg offers over 45,000 free books for free. You can search the books they offer here and check out their most popular downloads here. Amazon.com, while offering many for-fee ebooks for their Kindle platform, offers many ebooks for free, including classics. These resources can save you some serious money, readers!
Got any suggestions for other free content? Send me an email or comment below!