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Five ways the Los Angeles Public Library helps you save

The Los Angeles Public LIbrary (LAPL) is one of the greatest library systems in the world with a collection of more than six million books in 71 branches throughout the city. While the books alone are a fantastic resource for anyone watching their pennies, there are countless activities and materials available to residents that will save you big. The LAPL offers a longer borrowing period than many other city libraries and has a fantastic inner-library loan program enabling residents to have books delivered to their closest branch. But, all of that is truthfully pretty typical of metropolitan library systems. Here are five unique things the LAPL offers that save you money (and make it truly great):

1) CDs, DVDs & e-books
The e-books in the LAPL alone make it worth getting a library card. The 10,000 titles will fill your Kindle in a second or, you can download audio books from their web site if listening to novels while sitting in local traffic is more your style.

2) Free Internet
Everyone is looking to cut costs these days. With multiple computer terminals in every library branch, it;s simple to head in and do your searching there if paying for home Internet no longer fits in your budget. The total system hosts 2,300 public computers available for use. You also can get help from librarians on any research you're doing whether it's for school, work or home.

3) Special Collections and Art
Most underrated are the LAPL's special collections and art. If you're willing to head downtown to the Central LIbrary, you're in for a treat. If not, there are several local libraries with plenty to offer. For example,  The Shades of L.A. Collection is an archive of more than 10,000 images from family photo albums collected in recent years that shows the diverse history of the area.

4) Events and Book Readings
A quick search of the library calendar for Oct. '09 alone returns more than 1,000 events in the 71 locations. Whether it's training classes or book readings, there's always something going on and something for every age. The Thursdays @ Central are pretty diverse, one week visits some of the treasures of the Central library, like it's collection of Sheet Music, while the next a lecture on vintage textiles and bags, and after that a discussion on novel writing.

5) Free Test Prep Classes and Live Homework Help
If you, or someone you know is taking the PSAT, SAT or ACT, the free courses at the LAPL are in partnership with The Princeton Review and well-prepare students for these test. Meanwhile, the ongoing Live Homework Help, through Tutor.com, offers free help by subject matter every day from 3 to 10 p.m. taking a financial burden off parents who can't afford a personal tutor.

If the books alone aren't enough to get you in, once you start exploring all the other things the LAPL has to offer, you'll truly realize what a great resource it is. And, when you use it often, paying those late fees isn't a nuisance, it's a great way to give back to an institution that has so much to offer.

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