Get these Entertaining books for Free!

What is the one plastic card that is useful for party planning that doesn’t have the ability to hurt your credit score? Your library card! That’s right, my library card is one of my most valuable and inexpensive party planning resources. Read below to see how I discovered this precious resource and tips on how to easily find party books in your local library!

I’m a pretty avid reader and earlier in life I learned that having a passion for books could become a rather expensive hobby when you read as much as I do. I became a regular library patron in college when I learned that (for some reason) Ole Miss had an extensive John Grisham collection.

So when I moved to Dallas a priority was to find the closest public library. In a stroke of luck, I learned that the largest library in Dallas was just across the street from my office! About once a month I trek my way across City Hall’s concrete laden plaza, past the hobos and pigeons, over to the Dallas Public Library to browse for new books and enjoy a lunch out of the office.

I recently became engrossed in reading about the Tudor monarchy and proceeded to read all of the Tudor novels by Philippa Gregory. I’d read my way through the Something Borrowed series by Emily Giffin and spent three weeks reading all four books in the Twilight saga. But one day last fall my attention was snagged a Martha Stewart book on a display table that was obviously meant to highlight Thanksgiving cookbooks. I was intrigued. If they had one book by Martha they had to have more!

I immediately worked my way over to the card catalogue computer and began searching for Entertaining books. It didn’t take long before I hit the jackpot: Real Simple Celebrations, InStyle Entertaining and more Martha than a blossoming party planner could have ever dreamed of!

Where to Look

Different libraries use different classification systems but there are two main ones: the Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress. Of those, the DCC is much more commonly used. In fact, the official website says it is the world’s most widely used library classification system. It is also the system used in Dallas!

If you are anything like me you probably never fully under stood how that crazy number and dot system worked so here is a quick and dirty refresher guide to decoding the DCC and finding the books you are looking for without a hitch!

The Dewey Decimal System

Entertaining and cookbooks fall under Technology and Applied Sciences in the Home Economics Category. Basically just look for the section with call numbers that start with 640. I don’t know exactly how the rest of the numbers work but I’ve laid out a few I am pretty sure of below.  There are also a few other number categories I wanted to point out to you since they can also be great resources.

Kendall’s Dewey Decimal Quick Guide


390 – Customs, etiquette, folklore

392 – Weddings


630 – Agriculture & related


640 – Home economics

641 – Cookbooks

642 – Parties/Entertaining

643 – Home Decor

700 – ARTS

740 – Drawing, decorative & minor arts

745 – Crafts & Flower Arranging

Some other tips and tricks to know before you go:

  • Bigger libraries, like Dallas Central, have a “Current Collection” section. This is usually when you first walk in or on the first floor somewhere. In Dallas, this is where most of the newer entertaining books are housed. It’s also fun to find the place where they are supposed to be and browse through the old books. They can be pretty funny!
  • Books aren’t the only resources at the library. Most libraries maintain subscriptions to popular magazines such as Better Homes & Gardens, Family Circle, Real Simple, and Rachael Ray Everyday. In these budget-conscious times you might consider not renewing your subscription and taking your favorite mags in the library instead of the bath tub. (Hey, the library is quiet and can be very relaxing!)  Note: At most libraries magazines cannot be checked out so you’ll have to read them there.
  • Media such as magazines and DVDs are usually in a separate section but still fall under the DDC. In researching for this article I found out that my library has a great collection of old Martha TV specials and topic themed shows on DVD!
  • To check out items you’ll need a library card. Public libraries are usually run by the City. Bring a form of identification with your address on it to verify that you live within City limits. If you aren’t a resident there are usually options but they require payment. Also note that in most cities you can get a card if your employer’s address falls within city limits so if you live in the ‘burbs but work downtown you can still use the library free of charge!

Now you’re ready and armed to take on the public library! Am I the only bookworm who uses the library to check out entertaining books? I hope not! Share your stories by commenting below!

Dallas Public Library {Photo Credit: NunnScott}

This post is a part of my series Surpising Sources for {FREE} Party Inspiration.

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