Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Guest Post: Using Your Local Library as Your Main DVD Rental

Guest Post by Laura of Frugal Friends in Northern Virginia

This is an updated version of a post originally published in September 2009 on my blog Frugal Friends in Northern Virginia.

Friday nights tend to be 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 (at least in the DC metro area) 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 or when I was already at the library with my son, 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 DVD titles 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.

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,, or, so I often will figure out what specific titles I’d like to watch by checking out one of those aforementioned sites, and then logging into my local library catalog and searching 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!

*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 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.

My husband and I recently checked out Invictus (2009) from our local library and I’ve been impressed to find out how many new(er) releases they have (not just the old classics). Right now we have two other 2010 movies on hold: Leap Year and Sherlock Holmes. We have also checked out many popular kid movies like Wall-E, Bolt, etc.

My library also has 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 watch these days?)

If you have any frugal DVD rental tips, please leave a comment and let me know, and please check out my previous guest post on Frugally Blonde “My Family’s Frugal Extreme - Life Without Cable TV”.


  1. Thanks for sharing the idea. I do not have any specific tips really but I can suggest that local DVD rental often constitute a great inexpensive but impressive gift for almost any occasion - in particular for the Mother's day and Father's day.


  2. There have been many times my husband or I have hurried over to the library before it closes on Saturday so we have a "date" for that night. I think we've rented two movies in the last year. Everything else has been from the library, or we watch something online. (We don't have any TV service, so I think that's pretty good!)

  3. aww that is such a shame that they started charging for putting on hold! I live in a large metro area, so our library has a pretty good collection of movies. The popular ones are always checked out though,so I've found the best way is to pick out several movies and put them on hold. Eventually I'll get an email that they are ready to pick up, and I have a few days to pick it up.
    I don't have any tips really..
    We don't have cable or use dvd rental stores. We use netflix a LOT especially the streaming library, and whatever videos we can't get from netflix, we use the library for.

  4. I hope you're not talking about LCPL! I know they started charging for overdue books, but I didn't know they started charging for Interlibrary loans and for holds! The whole point of the "floating" catalog was to increase the variety at the various branches!


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