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Books, sure. But would you expect video equipment, upholstery kits, or museum passes at the library ? all available for checkout?

Many libraries are offering more nontraditional items and programs than ever. That means equipment, tools, classes, and training that you might have paid for in the past ? or skipped altogether ? are available free of charge.

In other words: Put away your credit card, and pull out your library card.

“We need to let go of the old-fashioned picture about libraries and thinking of them as just warehouses for books,” says Jane Baker, community and development director for the Spokane County Library District. “We are anything but.”

The county district’s “Library of Things” lets people check out tools or a telescope. “Touch-a-Fire Truck Story Times” let preschoolers meet firefighters and tour their engines. Science experiments deliver learning plus fun for kids.

“Our product here is knowledge, and knowledge comes in many forms,” Baker says.

Everything is offered at no charge for district residents. And nearly everything is available for people in Spokane and Liberty Lake who sign up for county library cards.

One of the newest services (and a serious money-saver) is the library district’s family museum-pass program. Each of the 11 libraries has a family pass to the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture and another to Mobius Children’s Museum and Science Center.

Learn more about library resources - and find other money-saving tips - at STCU’s financial education blog.

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