I haven't checked a book out of a library since I was at least 13 years old. I never once checked a book out of my high school or college libraries - although my college did have an absolutely beautiful library completed only a year or two before I started there.
It's not that I was anti-library; I used to check out quite a few books as a kid. However, the Ypsi library's rather poor selection (this was pre-brand new Ypsi Township library, by the way) combined with the fact that I read more and faster than the average person made the library sort of an inefficient option. Plus, I generally like to re-read my books.
Lately though, I noticed I was spending a LOT of money on books. Like, as much as I used to spend when I worked at the Earle and went to Border's every Sunday (and the Border's Rewards program not only gave coupons but holiday savings bucks. Probably the reason they don't do that anymore is because I got almost seventy dollars worth of free books between Thanksgiving and New Years.) Even the discovery of the Book Barn wasn't helping much because I was seeking out specific books and they were not necessarily available in used form.
So I turned to a solution that at the time seemed quite desperate: the New London Public Library.
To be honest, the only reason I even gave the library a chance was because it is a block away from work, meaning I can walk there, browse the books, and walk back on the average half-hour lunch break. Also, I was reading the Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse books and had not yet decided if I liked them enough to buy all eight, and no way was I buying just one.
I wasn't expecting much from the New London Library, and my expectations were met. It is somewhat small and most of the books are old. They often have the middle of a series but not the beginning or end. I was about to give up without ever checking anything out until my coworker told me about what I considered to be the library's redeeming feature (besides proximity to work).
It turns out that all the area libraries are linked up to one online database, which you can search not only from the library computers but also from your home computer. As long as the book you want is in that database, you can reserve it and select which library you want to pick it up and drop it off at. The library will then get it for you and call you when the book comes in.
I have now done this three times (all with Charlaine Harris books, no less) and am finding it an extremely agreeable system. And I have yet to wait more than a week for something that I have put on reserve. Plus, all that going back and forth to the library on my lunch hour resulted in me finding another redeeming quality: the kids section. Yes, most of those books are also old, but I want those books to be old because I want to find the ones I used to read...hence the fact that I re-read Bunnicula last week (hey, I had to check it out - Noe didn't believe that Bunnicula was a real book).
If you have given up on your local library, I am urging you to give it another chance. I know it is saving me money, which, let's face it, we can all use to do these days. Plus, some libraries have really great community programs, book discussion groups, or show neat movies. I know I'll never give up Border's and the Book Barn (or Amazon - damn internet) completely (or even really remotely, if we want to be honest) but for the books I am only going to read once or am not sure that I'll enjoy, the library is a fantastic option.
Happy New Year!
2 years ago