Where to get free books, movies, internet and more

Written by Neal F. Litherland. Posted in Pennies Saved & Pennies Earned

Published on November 16, 2011 with No Comments

With Netflix making changes to their plans and second hand bookstores disappearing like candle flames in a strong breeze, it might seem next to impossible to get your hands on decent entertainment without breaking open your rainy day piggy bank.

To answer that quandary, look no further than the local libraries to find everything you need to fill your quota of diversion.

It might sound like a no-brainer, but the library system has a vast amount of material of which many residents are only marginally aware. As with all libraries, you must be a resident of the county it serves and register with the library system in order to check items out.

For instance, start with books.

From how-to guides to graphic novels, books on art and naval battles to noir romps through modern fantasy cities, you can find any sort of book, magazine or other periodical to catch your interest if you’re willing to take a bit of time and do some searching through the huge catalog.

Additionally if you find a book you want, but it is at another branch, you don’t have to drive all over the county to check it out. Instead you can request that the copy be sent to your local branch, and then you can pick it up when it comes in. You can drop off the items at any branch as well

Easy as pie.

Of course you can only read so much, but the Porter County Library System has you covered there, too.

The library has a wide variety of DVDs, covering movies as well as educational programs and television series. As with your books, as long as you bring your movies back on time it’s free of charge.

And as with books, you can get movies at other branches sent to your local branch.

Perhaps even handier though is that while you can check any material out from one branch, you can return it at any other branch in the Porter County system.

Another thing that lots of people may overlook is the books on tape section, although many of the books are now on CD.

Audio books allow you to keep up with your reading even if you are busy by listening to novels during your commute, or on a long trip in the car. You can also take them with you on the train, or while you’re going for a walk to keep your mind occupied.

Audio books usually cost more than new movies and you may not listen to them more than once. So the library is a fantastic source for picking up and trying out different books without spending $30 or more on buying the book.

If you find yourself in need of a reliable source of Internet access, the library has you covered there as well.

Maybe you need to check for an e-mail, or you have to get some necessary information off a website while you are out and about.

The library offers access through desktop computers, or if you have your own wireless device (laptop, cell phone, E-reader, etc.) you can log on to the library’s Wi-Fi network and do your browsing there.

As with everything else mentioned, there is no charge for this service and it is covered by tax dollars.

As if that wasn’t enough, the library is also a hotbed of activity, despite lingering judgments you might have made when you had to research term papers.

Look at the entrance hall, which acts as something of a community bulletin board.

You will see all of the programs going on at the library, as well as many things going on in the surrounding community.

You can find government posts about laws and changes that are coming. And you can find fliers for everything from first aid courses to local bands that you may never have heard of before. And if you need a place for your club meeting, then you can talk to the library and reserve one of the meeting rooms to ensure a private setting where you can get business done.

Additionally, each library has services that are unique to it.

For instance, the Valparaiso branch of the Porter County Library System has an extensive collection of public records and information in the Genealogy Section upstairs.

Additionally you can search the genealogy records from home, accessing them through the library’s website at www.pcpls.lib.in.us/genealogy.html.

The Hobart, Valparaiso and Portage branches of the system also have Friends of the Library resale rooms where patrons can go and pick up used books and books on tape for pennies on the dollar.

The Hobart library offers all of the above services as well. For more information on the Hobart library, call 219-942-2243 or visit www.lcplin.org/pgm-hoj.htm.

For more information on the Porter County libraries, call 219-462-052 or visit www.pcpls.lib.in.us.

The libraries in the Porter system: Hebron Public Library: 201 West Sigler Street,; 219-996-3684; Portage Public Library: 2665 Irving Street, 219-763-1508; Kouts Public Library: 101 East Daumer Road, 219-766-2271; South Haven Public Library: 403 West 700 N., 219-759-4474; Valparaiso Public Library: 103 Jefferson Street; 219-462-0524.

The Hobart library: 100 N. Main St., 219-942-2243

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About Neal F. Litherland

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Neal Litherland is a Valparaiso resident who has been a freelance writer for several years. A graduate of Indiana University, he holds a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice. He offers advice on money-saving tips using common-sense tactics. He welcomes suggestions and comments. Contact Neal: neal@thechroniclenwi.com.

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