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Free "Elf on the Shelf" for teachers

Elf on the Shelf is giving away free Elf on the Shelf resource kits to the first 5,000 teachers who register for the Elf on the Shelf resource center, which provides teachers with free lesson plans.

Qualifying teachers must teach kindergarten through 5th grade at a public or private school.

Elf on the Shelf is a Christmas book with an accompanying toy Elf who scouts boys and girls for Santa's nice and naughty lists.

The free kit includes the storybook and elf, an Elf on the Shelf Birthday book and an elf costume.

Click here to register.


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann




Learn how to borrow eBooks from the library

The Digital Bookmobile is passing through town this month to teach library patrons how to borrow digital and audio books for their eReaders.

The high-tech tractor-trailer will be at the Clearfield Branch of the Amherst Public Library, 770 Hopkins Road in Williamsville on August 16 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. It will be at the Orchard Park Public Library, 4570 South Buffalo Street, on August 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Learn how to borrow titles from the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library as well other libraries around the country using your computer, iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Kindle, Sony Reader or NOOK.

Patrons of the Nioga Library System and the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library can use their library cards to borrow digital titles anytime by searching the Overdrive database.


---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

NT library book sale begins today

The Friends of the North Tonawanda Public Library used book sale will kick off today on Meadow Drive in North Tonawanda.

Hardcover books are $2, paperbacks $1, Harlequin romance paperbacks are 50 cents. Magazines are 25 cents apiece or five for $1. Records and audio casettes are 25 cents, videotapes are 50 cents, CDs and DVDs are $1.

Friends of the Library members get the first crack at shopping tonight from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Annual memberships are available at the library at a rate of $5 per individual, $8 per family or $50 for a lifetime membership.

The sale opens to the public Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and continues Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The library's bag sale will be held Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Bring a paper bag and pay $5 for everything that will fit inside.

Proceeds of the sale will benefit the Friends of the North Tonawanda Public Library, a non-profit civic group that supports the library financially and through volunteering.

For more information, call the library at 693-4132.

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Huge book sale continues downtown

LibraryThe downtown Buffalo central library is in the middle of its annual book sale.

The magazine is liquidating a large inventory of used books, magazines, VHS tapes and audio books on cassette and CD. All items will sell for 25 cents.

The sale goes until 2 p.m. today and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Enter the public library, 1 Lafayette Square, from the Ellicott Street door between Broadway and Clinton.

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Tremendous Savings on Books


I consider it sad news any time a bookstore closes. But at least we as consumers can seek some kind of solace in their going-out-of-business sales, right?

My personal favorite book store, the Book Outlet, is closing four of its locations. Thankfully, the main location on Niagara Falls Boulevard in North Tonawanda inside the majestic Wurlitzer building will remain open. But four others will be gone by January, maybe even the end of this month. Until then, they're selling their entire inventory at 80 percent off or more.

Stores are located in the Tops Plaza on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo, the Northtown Plaza on Sheridan Drive in Amherst, the Southgate Plaza on Union Road & Seneca Street in West Seneca and at 2429 Military Road in Niagara Falls. Another location, on Maple Road in Williamsville, moved to Transit Road before closing this summer.

Two local Borders Express stores are closing as well. Stores at Boulevard Mall in Amherst and Eastern Hills Mall in Clarence will shutter by January. Those stores are currently trimming prices by up to 30 percent.

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Free WiFi coming to Borders


Would you like some Internet access with that coffee and magazine?

In the upcoming weeks, Borders will make free WiFi service available at "virtually all" of its stores throughout the country. It signed a deal with Verizon Communications earlier this week to provide the service, which is expected to be available by mid-October.

Click here to find your closest Borders. 

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Which is the Best Library?

TetonMoneySmart champ Dan Dore of Pendleton and a few other savvy readers have e-mailed the Discount Diva trumpeting their local libraries as a great way to save money on entertainment. Dan agrees the library is a great place to find the latest books, DVDs, CDs and even use the Internet. He estimates the average Blockbuster renter would save $500 per year by switching to their local library.

That got me thinking: which library is your favorite? We'd love to hear which local branches have the most going for them, and the coolest ones you've visited elsewhere, too. What services, attributes and events set them apart?Austintown

While I adore the Buffalo Central branch, I have to give a shout out to my favorite location on the planet--the North Tonawanda Public Library. It's a fraction of the size of Central, but I've yet to be disappointed looking for even the most obscure title. Hot, new books are sometimes checked out, but the NT library transfers books quickly and very cheaply.Mckinley 

Other favorites--for style, atmosphere and selection--are the McKinley Memorial Library in Niles, OH; the Austintown Library near Youngstown, OH and the Teton County Library in Jackson Hole, WY.

How about yours?

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann

Your favorite book nook?

In Monday's Discount Diva column, I shared a few of my favorite places to find books on the cheap. Now it's your turn.

Where do you shop for books? Do you have a favorite library branch? How about a great Web site or book club?

---Samantha Maziarz Christmann