Sep 11

Using Your Local Library As Your Main DVD Rental

It’s a rainy day here, and a Friday (yay, for the end of the week and beginning of the weekend!).  Which means it will most likely be a family movie night here at our house.

If you frequently rent DVDs like our family, then I’d like to let you in on a little money-saving tip for DVD rentals:
Use your local library as your main DVD rental location; it’s free!
They don’t just have educational movies, but also a large collection of G, PG, and PG-13 movies in a variety of genres.

What deterred me in the past from using the library as my main DVD rental source, was that there were not often DVDs on the shelf or in stock at my local branch that looked interesting.  I often went when I wanted to watch a movie that evening, and I didn’t always find a lot in stock right when I needed it.

Now, I’ve found a solution to my earlier issues, by planning ahead and using the county-wide library catalog.  I can search for specific DVDs at all libraries in my county, and request that it be sent to my local branch.  I can also reserve/request titles that are already checked out, and I’ll receive an email notification when my local branch has it ready for me to pick up.
*July 2010 Update: Please check with your local library to see if there are any additional fees for inter-library loans or putting items on hold. Unfortunately, my county has just started charging $3 per item for inter-library loans (if you want a book/DVD/item transferred to your local branch for pickup) and $0.25 for placing items on hold.*

If you’re interested in saving a little money on DVD rentals too, I suggest that before heading over to Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, or even RedBox, you should check out your local library’s online catalog to see if they have a movie you’d like to rent.  Let me warn you, your online library catalog is not as fancy or user-friendly (for sorting and searching) as Blockbuster.com or RedBox.com, so I often will figure out what specific titles I’d like to watch by checking out those aforementioned sites, and then logging into my public library catalog and searching their catalog for those specific movies.  Even if you only save $1 for each DVD you rent from the library rather than RedBox, that $1 each time adds up!  If you live in Northern Virginia, here are the main library catalogs for each county:

Arlington County, VA has an online library catalog called Acorn, where you can search by subject DVD, to look through their 220+ DVD collection.

Culpeper County, VA has an online library catalog for their Culpeper County Library listing 250+ DVDs in their collection.  When doing a search to view all their DVD collection, select “Keywords” and type “DVD” in the search box.

Fairfax County, VA has an online library catalog, and you can do a search for specific titles or search through their list of 2,900+ DVDs.  When doing a search make sure you type in the field ”Search for” the word ”DVD”
Select your local branch, or keep at default “All” so you can reserve/request a DVD to be sent to your local branch, even if they don’t normally carry that title.
Click the blue button “Subject” so that your search is for all titles that have the subject of DVD (and are therefore DVDs).

Also, there are eVideos available online if you have a FCPL (Fairfax County Public Library) card.  There is more information about eVideos here.  Basically you can download up to 10 movies (.wma files) at a time to your own computer and watch for up to 7 days. They have 350+ eVideos currently in their collection, which appear to be mainly educational films.

Fauquier County, VA has an online library catalog. You can do a search just by the type “DVD Video” to view their 1,800+ DVD collection.  And they have a webpage for DVDs that are new to the collection (currently 45 “new” DVDs with publication dates of 2002-current). They also have a “wow”brary web page that lets you know all the library’s newest additions (books, DVDs, etc.) updated on a weekly basis.

Loudon County, VA also has an online library catalog, You can search for a specific title or look through their 1,470+ DVD collection.

Prince William County, VA has an online library catalog, and you can do a search for specific titles, or look at their 5,000+ collection of DVDs.
You can view their weekly newest additions to the library on their “Wow-brary” web page or sign up for weekly emails.

Stafford County, VA has an online library catalog called Library Point for Central Rappahannock Regional Library that you can use to search for DVDs using the “Video Title Browse” drop-down selection if you are looking for a specific film.  They currently have 700+ DVDs in their collection.

Warren County, VA has a main online library catalog as well as a Kid’s online library catalog for Samuels Library.
They currently have 1,400+ DVDs in their collection.

My husband and I recently checked out the Kevin Spacey movie 21 (2008) from our local library and I was impressed to find out how many new(er) releases they have (not just the old classics).  I noticed other 2008 releases like Eagle Eye and others.  We have checked out popular kid movies like Wall-E, Bolt, etc.

They have a great collection of children’s DVDs as well, including popular tv shows/movies like Bob the Builder, Thomas the Tank Engine, Handy Manny, Veggie Tales, Sesame Street, etc. (noticing a trend of toddler boy movies, because that’s all I know?)

If you have any frugal DVD rental tips, please leave a comment and let me know!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Holly September 11, 2009 at 2:49 pm

That is a great idea! I will have to show this to my husband because we love movies. How long can you check them out for? The same as books about 3 weeks?

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frugalfriends September 11, 2009 at 7:19 pm

I know at Prince William County libraries you have 1 week to keep the DVD (not as good as the normal 3 weeks for books). But I typically go online and renew my DVDs for another week or two if I haven’t had time to watch the movie or my son is really into a particular kid’s movie. As long as no one has requested it, you should be able to renew 3 or 4 more times (not sure of the exact maximum).
I’m not sure what Fairfax County’s policy and the other counties’ policies are, but I suspect it is similar, in that you don’t get to check out DVDs for as long as books, but should be able to renew at least once, as long as no one else has requested that particular movie.

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frugalfriends October 9, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Note to self: Make sure you don’t condition your kids into thinking that the library is only for movies… I sometimes have a hard time keeping my son away from the children’s DVD section, instead of looking for books or playing with puzzles! I want to nurture his love for books and not turn him into a couch potato at an early age :)

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