What if I told you there is a way to get free Netflix? What if I told you there was a way to avoid making several Netflix and Hulu accounts to get the free 30 day trials just to watch ONE show? What if I told you that you could have access to almost any movie or TV show your heart desires located in one database? I’m sure most of you would not only be interested, but would probably do what I say. Well, today is your lucky day! Your public library is the answer.
With that sweet, coveted piece of plastic known as your library card, you can have the world of film at your fingertips. How, you ask? It starts at your local public library. Have you ever taken a stroll through the DVD section? If you haven’t, I’m sure you would be pleasantly surprised by the selection of movies, TV series, and documentaries it has to offer. There is a good chance you will find a cultivated collection of old and new, popular and unheard of, and both good and terrible. I’m talking The Handmaid’s Tale, Grey’s Anatomy, Sharknado, Gone With the Wind, Game of Thrones, the Godfather, Fifty Shades of Grey, This Is US, and everything in between.
But, wait….what if they don’t have what you’re looking for? This could certainly be the case, especially if your local library is smaller-sized. This is where the online catalog comes into play. Most libraries have partnerships with other libraries in their region, called a “consortium.” Patrons of libraries that belong to a consortium can borrow items from other libraries within the consortium. This is why you can pick different library locations to search in the catalog. You are able to see what items your own library has, and then if needed, you can see what other libraries have as well. Where I live in Maine, there is a state-wide consortium that over 60 libraries belong to, which includes different public, school, university, medical, and research libraries. I am able to order any item from any of those libraries and have it delivered to my local library within about a week.
In addition, many densely populated areas have agreements with other libraries to allow patrons from neighboring towns to actually use and check out books from their physical library. For example, last year I lived in Northville, Michigan for a few months. I lived on the street that divided Northville from the neighboring city of Novi. Once I got my library card, I was able to check out books from both Northville, and Novi, along with many other libraries in the area. If I didn’t want to wait a week for a book or DVD to be delivered, I was able to just drive to another location within the agreement and pick it up myself.
At this point (if you are still reading), I know what you’re thinking… Free movies and TV shows are great and all, but getting them from my public library means I have to order them, wait for them to come in, drive there to pick them up during the hours they are open, and then again to return them. I hear you. I also know that some libraries are starting to offer online movie and TV show databases (much like Netflix!). I was at my library today, and it turns out they just started offering a service called “kanopy.” With my library card, I am allowed to watch 10 titles per month free of charge! I was browsing through the options today, and there are many brand new Oscar-nominated films, educational documentaries, and even some television shows. I predict that in this digital age, more and more libraries will start offering these type of services to keep up with what patrons want.
I am personally not an avid watcher of TV. I enjoy the occasional movie and an episode or two of my boyfriend’s favorite series “The King of Queens” a couple times a week. Other than that, I spend most of my time reading and writing. That being said, cable TV and subscription services are not something I feel comfortable paying for monthly (hello more money for happy hour Fridays!). That is why the library option is the best way for me to watch movies, but I understand that everyone is different. It is also important to note that every library is different. As I’ve stated, I live in Maine with a huge library consortium and at my library, borrowing DVDs are free. Unfortunately, I know that in Marquette at Peter White Public Library, new DVDs still cost $1 to borrow for 7 days. It is important to check out what your specific library offers before assuming everything I’ve mentioned is available in your area.
At the end of the day, I realize that a lot of people really love to watch TV and movies, and will not be willing to part with the convenience of having cable or Netflix at their disposal at any time of the day without leaving their home. On the contrary, if you’re looking to save a few bucks, or only watch movies every once in a while, you public library option could definitely work for you!