There were other reasons I quit going to the library before we were married, as well. One of the librarians started complaining about how many books I would check out, and I didn't like being told that "[she] was spending all of [her] time on one patron". I knew that there were other people that checked out a lot of books, and maybe I just always saw her on a bad hair day, but I dreaded going in there. About that same time, the library sent out a notice that they would be charging an annual fee for families outside of their township and putting a limit on the number of books that could be checked out. My family started using the small library closer to us. I had less time to read, and more money to buy books that I wanted, so after that I rarely used the library.
It's Still Worth Going To, Though
Even if most of your learning needs are met through other means- and mine are met through blogs, Pinterest, Youtube, and different podcasts- the library still has something to offer. First of all, it's free. So you have nothing to lose by walking in and getting a library card. All it takes is your driver's license.
1. Interloan system: Allows you to borrow from any library in the state. As you can imagine, this gives you access to almost any book out there, in addition to audio books. This feature alone will save me probably $30 per year on buying books that I'm only going to read once or twice anyway. Even though I'm trying to only read books that I have already, inevitably there are a few books every year that I must. read. now. and end up paying for.
2. Fewer books at home: If I use the library, there is no reason to keep classic literature, cookbooks or other widely available one-time reads stored on my shelves at home. This will help get rid of clutter and make life easier for me.
3. Local history resources: Another thing I noticed at the library was a lot of independently published local history books and pamphlets. Although there is some local history on the internet, there's not a whole lot out there. In addition to the books you can check out, the library also has a "historical room" with old yearbooks and other interesting local history tidbits. You can only get in by appointment, but it's still free to look through.
4. Within biking distance: The library is only a 20 minute bike ride from our house. It's right across from the post office as well, so this summer I'll be able to 1) exercise, 2) mail packages, and 3) get books, all for free and all at the same time, possibly within an hour.
Public libraries do have some limitations.
1. Selection: Our library here is relatively small.
2. Movies: VHS tapes are free to rent, but DVDs are $1 per week. The video store in town will let you rent three DVDs for a dollar a week, and Youtube of course has plenty of viewing material for free.
3. Newer books: Libraries obviously don't rush out and buy every new book that is published in your area of interest. But there is still hope using the interloan system.
4. Older books: While there are some old books at our library (we found one from 1903!), many pre-1900's books are available online for absolutely free. You don't have to worry about tearing or ruining online books, nor do you have to think about returning them or paying a late fee. Works like Mrs. Beeton's Cookery Book or Ben Franklin's autobiography can be downloaded onto a Kindle for free and read at your own leisure.
5. Nichest of niche books: Like I said above, the library doesn't go out and buy every book in your niche area of interest. So you'll have to use the interloan system with these books, or buy them if you want to read them.
Librarians: this can be a good thing or a bad thing, but you'll have to interact with a real person when you check out books. I'd like to have a good relationship with our local librarians, so this time around I'll only be checking out a couple books at a time. I think the sacrifice will be worth it.
Do you use the library? Why or why not?