Yeah, we said it—the library. Maybe you haven’t been since your days in college. Maybe you even swore never to go back, scarred by research papers and long nights of cramming for tests.

But believe it or not, the library can actually help you out a ton in your adult life, too.

It might not sound like the coolest place to spend your time, but believe us—there are some pretty awesome perks available if you just step inside. Besides, your tax dollars have already paid for those benefits, so why not take advantage?

Here are five surprising ways that you can utilize the library to boost your career and make your life a little better (for free!).

1. Create a Stronger Resume

Did you know that many libraries provide career services? Depending on the location, they can offer everything from advice about resume building to job-hunting tools. Some libraries, like the New York Public Library, even offer classes on computer skills like Excel and Word.

So, head to your library’s resource center and ask if there is any career support available, or check the events page for upcoming workshops that could help you build your skills or sharpen your job search prowess.

2. Network With Your Neighbors

Spending time at the library means being surrounded by many people you live and work near. It could be a great place to meet new members of the community and share what you’re working on professionally—potentially even connect with someone who could help you get ahead!

Try striking up a (quiet) friendly conversation with someone next to you in the same aisle. Chances are you’re both looking at similar topics and might have something in common! Or, attend one of many book discussions or community events hosted at the library.

3. Enjoy a Free Place to Work

Imagine a place that is air conditioned, has huge tables to spread out on, offers free Wi-Fi, provides plenty of seats and outlets, encourages a quiet work environment—and doesn’t require you to pay $5 for a latte or deal with crowds of people bustling through a coffee shop. The library is a great place to work if you need to get away from the office or work remotely and need somewhere more exciting than your couch.

4. Have a Little More Weekend Fun

Many libraries offer passes to local events and museums for free or at a discounted entry price. If you would rather spend a night at home, you can often pick up movies and music as part of your membership, too. So, sign up for your library card and start having a little (free!) fun.

5. Learn Something New (and Useful)

You probably already know this, but no matter what you want to learn, the library likely has some volume in its collection that can help you out. Whether it’s something to help you grow professionally or just a topic you’re interested in on the side, continuing to learn anything will keep your brain sharp and engaged. And while, sure, you could learn these things on the web, don’t your tired eyes deserve a rest from the glow of your computer screen? We thought so.

Photo of library desk courtesy of Shutterstock.

Updated 6/19/2020