Last weekend, my son told us that other children in their school have watched Star Wars. I thought 5 (almost 6) might be a little too early, but even if a lot of it goes over his head there’s not much harm there.
My wife and I went through the age-old question of which order to introduce the movies. Fortunately, we both agreed on the chronological order of release date – we started with the 4th movie.
There was just one small problem. How do you watch Star Wars nowadays? I couldn’t find it streaming on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Star Wars isn’t there. Amazon and Google Play were willing to sell me the digital movie for around $20. We were simply looking to rent it for the day and maybe explore buying a collection in the future.
We went down to the local Blockbuster, but strangely they only had pizza and subs there. I looked online to see if it was at my local Redbox kiosk. That was a dead end as well.
My wife was going to start calling up random friends and co-workers, before she came up with a better idea, “Why don’t we go to the library?”
This may sound strange, but we had never gotten library cards. For whatever reason we’ve been running around from one thing to the next or simply enjoying all the books, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video that we already have at home. We were long overdue to become members and reap all the benefits of our taxpayer dollars at work.
Libraries: Much More Than Books
Of course the Library had all the Star Wars movies. We grabbed episodes 4 to 6… even “upgrading” to Blu-Ray for A New Hope. I put upgrading in quotes because it was the same price of “free” as the DVDs. They also had a bunch of new releases in Blu-Ray as well. While it isn’t a new release, I never got around to seeing Deadpool and that caught my eye.
We watched the Star Wars movies and my kids picked up some of the large plot ideas. Show off my ability to talk like Yoda did I? My kids didn’t know that Dad was good friends with Yoda. (More accurately, his college linguistics class analyzed such sentences and how we still what he’s saying.)
When I returned the movies, I noticed that they had a section of kids movies. There we found the original Pete’s Dragon, which is something my wife and I wanted to introduce to our kids. It’s been very hard to find that on streaming services as well. Next, I spied a real treasure: School House Rock: Multiplication. I grabbed that just to watch my kids’ heads explode at Three is a Magic Number. They only know the Jack Johnson version from the Curious George movie Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Multiplication is not typically taught to a 5 year old (much less our 4 year old), so my expectations are zero. However, the songs were fun for everyone. Any math that stuck is a bonus. (Note: There should be a much more extensive post about my planned “Summer of Math” with the kids coming soon. Don’t worry, we got them in camp and soccer – stuff that some silly kids think is more fun than math. Update: The Summer of Math is here!)
Beyond books and DVDs, libraries have a number of very cool things. My library even has few fishing poles and tackle boxes that you can borrow with a library card. That’s the most unusual thing they have.
There’s one more huge benefit of my library (and I bet your library too): Free digital content. Last night I signed up with < a target="new" href="new">Hoopla, which has videos from The Great Courses. I grabbed the one on chess and was watching it in minutes like it was Netflix. (I don’t think Hoopla and Chill is going to catch on, especially with my chess video.) I grabbed an episode of Mr. Wizard’s World and the first episode of the 4th season of Octonauts (which I don’t think has made Netflix yet.) My library limits me to 6 pieces of content per month, so it’s not going to replace Netflix, but it’s a very good supplement.
There’s a similar service for free music via a company called Freegal. I haven’t looked at that yet. There’s also something called Mango Languages, which is normally $20/mo.
The library also a 3-D printer and 3-D classes. I think the only cost is the plastic for the printer itself. We’ll probably explore this sometime in the near future.
I realize that this article fits squarely in the “But Lazy Man, I already knew all this!” area. I had an idea that most of these things were available, but I had simply forgotten them. I’m going to have to start a spreadsheet of things like, “Rainy Day activities”, so that I can remember to take advantage of all the awesome stuff the library has.
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We lived at the library when our kids were young You can try books, movies, etc for free. It’s greatest contribution: Hank the Cow Dog. We got the tapes(remember those) for road trips. I think my wife and I may have even liked them better than the kids.
Lazy Man says
I’m adding Hank to my kid’s Amazon wishlist now. (We’ll still use the library, but it’s just a handy place to keep ideas.) My son’s favorite thing at school is the “Playaway”, which is today’s version of books on tape. I like a lot of kids things better than kids or adult things now. Teen Titans Go’s episode on building equity through rental properties is great. There’s another episode on 401Ks, compound interest, and other similar topics.
Tom, you reminded me of another thing about libraries that I missed, the community. I don’t know how active it is at my library, but they seem to be running classes for all sorts of things.
Tom @ Dividends Diversify says
Hi Lazy Man,
My wife is a librarian. It’s a second career and she’s now at a University Library, but started at a public library.
My favorite things about our public library:
We check out DVDs to watch movies we missed
I use the digital subscription to Morningstar for investment research
Being early retired, it’s a nice place to go to get out of the house sometimes and just explore or relax or be lazy!
ROBYN A. WEINBAUM says
my sone was into anime while in middle school. i took him to the anime club meetings once a month. i go to the library once a week or so for various writer and poetry group meetings. my daughter learned to make paper airplanes at the library and still remembers the dress-up alice in wonderland party and poetry reading [she was 4] twas brillig that day.
i’ve lectured on tax code, writing, and medieval fashion at various libraries.
take a look, it’s in a book … or in the library anyway!
ROBYN A. WEINBAUM says
oh yes, i borrow stacks of CDs to play at work AND i can borrow books to read on my kindle!
I can’t believe you waited so long. We spent a ton of time at the library when our kid wasn’t in school yet. They always had some kind of event going on. We still go about once per week to get movies, books, and music. The reservation system is really good here.
Our library doesn’t have a 3D printer, though. :(
That sounds neat.
Lazy Man says
It seems like we’ve always had plenty of things to do. Our parents have given us a billion kid books and toys. There’s always so much other stuff going on, plus full-time pre-school.