8+ Things You Didn’t Know You Could Check Out at the Library


My family and I are big fans of the library. Books, educational programming, cultural experiences, and interactive play areas. I am here for all of that!

Let me be your library guru and share with you all things you should be checking out from your local library (hint: and they aren’t all books!

8+ Things to Check Out From the Library

Digital Books/Magazines/Music

I know this may be an obvious choice, but did you know you can get digital books, audiobooks, and magazines for your Kindle or e-reader? For FREE nonetheless? Each local library will vary, but programs like Libby (aka: Overdrive or Bridges) or Hoopla let you check out and download books/audiobooks/magazines/music to your device. 


Libraries often times have regular subscriptions to magazines (Consumer Reports!) and local newspapers and even national newspapers. The Des Moines Public Library also has an online Chilton Library to help you tackle vehicle maintenance and repairs. The library is also my go-to if I’m looking for a new tv show to binge watch or a newly released movie. So much cheaper than paying for a magazine at the checkout or Netflix!

Book Clubs

Looking for a way to have an adult conversation about a book? Most libraries offer local book clubs or have book club “bags” for you to check out. Much of the time they have extended check out times on these monthly book club books. 

Kids Programming

Last summer my kids participated in three summer reading programs. My kids were six and three and couldn’t really read. But that didn’t stop us from participating and getting our reading minutes in. The end of summer reading program parties are the best and getting to pick out fun prizes and new books are awesome incentives.

Our local library also has early out adventures on the days that our school district has early dismissal. Our favorite program is at Christmas – gingerbread house building! We show up and the library does all the hard work – they provide all of the candy, icing, graham crackers, and clean-up! #momwin

We’ve also done Blank Park programs, ISU insect zoo programs, Iowa Public Television programs, touch-a-truck, and bicycle safety training. There is always something going on!

Stuff for Kids

Don’t be afraid to ask for details about what you can check out. Most libraries have a children’s area. Ask if they have things other than books to check out. Every library has different things.

  • Storytime! Songs, silly dancing, books, crafts, and new friends.
  • Puppets
  • American Girl dolls
  • Interactive toy kits
  • Gaming system games
  • Leap pad games
  • Kid play areas – magnets, train sets, legos, and more
  • Movies
  • Small pets/animals to visit at the library

Adult Programming

I really appreciate how easy the library makes it for me to be a lifelong learner. My particular local library organizes a community garden every summer, so I’m able to “check out” a plot and plant a garden. There is also a master gardener on staff who teaches basic sessions on gardening every year. I’ve also made a rain barrel, taken a class on Indian cuisine, and benefited from legal advice from a local lawyer. Many libraries also offer crafting opportunities and technology/device lessons too. But one of my favorite offerings is the Des Moines Public Library’s AVID (Authors Visiting in Des Moines) series. I’ve gotten to meet and hear some of my favorite authors speak!

Stuff for Adults

  • Meeting rooms
  • Internet, computers, and printers
  • Baking pans
  • Sewing machines
  • Test proctoring
  • Learn a new language

Adventure Passes

One of the Best kept secrets about the library is Adventure Pass for the Blank Park Zoo, The Science Center of Iowa, Des Moines Botanical Gardens, and Living History Farms. Iowa Libraries provide free passes to area attractions by using a valid adult Library card and a valid photo ID. Any adult library patron can use their library card to enjoy an educational day of family fun once every 365 days.

Choose your own {library} adventure. What are your favorite local library resources?

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Kara Knaack
Kara originally hails from northwest Iowa where she met her husband, Lance, through a 4-H fashion show. After a decade of living in central Iowa, Kara is still figuring out which way is north. Wearing the hat of “wife, mommy, employee, chef, ribbon tie-er and family calendar organizer,” Kara knows a bit about juggling life and work. Kara became a boy-mom in June of 2011 to Lucan and a girl-mom to Gracelyn in December of 2014. Most days you can find her mixing up metaphors and oversharing life’s moments via social media. Kara enjoys yoga, reading, gardening, cooking, sewing in straight lines and singing along to musicals. A spender by nature, but thrifty by necessity, Kara is always in hunt of a bargain. She’s an active member of Northpoint Church and a resident of Grimes. Her vision for life includes “doing the best we can with what God gives us.”


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