The closest branch of the public library is a mere 5 minute drive from our apartment. It is situated within the community centre in our part of the city, and is across the street from a major shopping mall, within walking distance from G-ma's apartment, and backs onto the property of the public school where DD2 attends.
This library has a children's area with great reading material for babies to teens, some toys for DS to play with while I browse, and even computers for kids to play learning games on.
For the grown-ups, there are aisles of books, CD's, DVD's, newspapers and magazines available for borrowing. There are computers to use for job searching, and general use, as well as ones specific for searching the database of books available within the sity-wide library system. I can put my name on a list to borrow a book that was just put into circulation, as well as find books that have been recommended to me, usually by one of the librarians whose reading interests are close to mine.
Inside the community centre, there are free or low-cost programs available for mostly everyone, in addition to the ones that the library offers. This is where I can take the little guy four mornings per week, to the drop-in program. For two glorious hours, he can play with wonderful toys, meet other children, hear a story and a song, and get a nutritious snack, while I can knit, and chat with other parents and/or caregivers. This is one of the many free programs available to us.
There is also a food cupboard and baby food bank available, an Ontario Works satellite office, a preschool half-day program, a senior citizen meeting group, a young parents program, a Women's group weekly meeting (facilitated in Arabic), and probably dozens of other programs and groups who meet there that I don't even know about. It is truly a central area for finding out what is going on in our suburb of the city.
When I need to find something free to do with the family, or need direction on how to find a resource that could be of use to frugal families like ours, they have always been there to help guide the way.