The headline said, “Price Increases are Rampant at Retailers.” The fact is that everything costs more these days. From getting gouged at the gas pump to spending more for less at the grocery store, the news is all about where we can expect to pay more. It’s too uncomfortably reminiscent of my childhood, when the term, “stagflation” was coined. Money was tight, but there was one place we could go where my mom would utter those ne’er heard words, “Get what you want!” It was the library. The other day, while chatting with a colleague, I had one of those epiphany moments, which prompted me to look more closely at all of the ways the library helps our community members save money.

Obviously, there are books. There was a time when books were tres cher, and if a family could afford to buy a book, it was the Bible, they only had one, and it doubled as a place to record one’s family tree. While books aren’t quite as expensive as they once were, a new paperback by our favorite author is three times the cost of a latte from Starbuck’s. Borrowing books from the library is free, which leaves us more money for coffee.

It’s not just books, though. With subscriptions to more than 50 magazines and the local paper, keeping up with current events or just thumbing through Mother Earth News magazine (for money-saving ideas on being more self-sufficient) is as easy as stopping by and sitting for a spell in the Adult Reading area. Coffee is optional, but at a savings of $5.99 per issue for the Mother Earth News magazine, you could afford two cups of Joe.

There’s not much that goes better with a good book than a cuppa and some soothing music. The library can help with that, too. We have an extensive music CD collection, and if listening is how you prefer your books, we also have hundreds of audiobooks. What you can’t find in our collection is available through our Cloud library, where you can download both audiobooks and e-books (to your computer or e-reader). We’re heading into the summer travel season. Grab an audiobook or a couple of CDs to keep yourself (and those kids in the backseat) entertained during that long drive!

Speaking of trips. How about a field trip? Your library card allows you to borrow a pass for free entrance to the Portland Museum of Art, the Southworth Planetarium, and (coming soon!) the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray. Also available is a pass for half off the admission price to the Children’s Museum in Portland. Sounds like a day trip is on the roster!

Of course, sometimes what we need is to have the story tell itself in full color on a screen. With a collection of over 6000 DVDs in every genre, including foreign films, Disney delights, and everything in between, we truly have something for everyone. What about those of us who don’t have a DVD player, you ask? Well, we got you covered, too. Did you know that your library card entitles you to 15 FREE downloads per month on Kanopy, the library’s streaming service? Once a better deal than cable (and no ads!), streaming services are getting ridiculously expensive (and now also have advertisements). From 2020 to 2021 the price tag for at-home streaming increased 44.7 percent. With Kanopy or borrowed DVDs, there are no ads, they are free, and the savings per week pays for another latte with a flavor shot, if you want it.


The fact is that we are a computer-centric world, and for that, your library can also save you money. We have computers available for public use, and if you have your own laptop or a smartphone, we have free Wi-Fi.

Here at the library, we’re all about being frugal and smart with our money. To that end, we invited Megan Letendre from UNE’s SNAP-Ed Program to do a virtual pop-up grocery store. Megan walked us through some easy ways we can make food dollars more elastic at the grocery store. Her video will be posted at the beginning of May on our Facebook page and our YouTube Channel and will be available through the end of September. Check it out!

As the economy tries to pull the proverbial financial rug out from under our feet, your library is here to steady your footing with resources and materials to keep you informed and entertained. As our favorite Aardvark, Arthur Read, always says, “Having fun isn’t hard, when you’ve got a library card.”

Wendy Brown is a proud frugalista, who learned dozens of money-saving tips as a stay-at-home mom for two decades. When she’s not thrift shopping for new-to-her cloths or making inexpensive gourmet meals for her family, she enjoys perusing the 600-section in non-fiction for books on living a thrifty life.

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