The Magic Of Public Libraries

Guys. Guys! GUYS!

Ok I have your attention.

I have a public service announcement. This one’s important: You should go visit your library. Like, yesterday. And if not yesterday, at least make a point to take a stroll there tomorrow. Because the library is a wonderful place. It took me until I was twenty-five to realize it, but I have to make up for lost time.

You know what I used to do when I wanted a book? Spend $10-15 on each. I lumbered hundreds if not thousands of dollars of printed paper the 1.5 miles from the bookstore to my house. Uphill. And then, if after a couple chapters I didn’t like the book, it’d sit there on my nightstand. Taunting me. Like my copy of Ulysses. That sucker will be there for years.

Now what do I do? I put a hold for the book at my local library. It’ll get shipped a half mile from my house from anywhere in the entire state. And then, if it’s not to my taste? I bring it back. Just like that– poof, it’s gone! Even if I do like the book, I could buy a copy later. And, really, how many of my books have I read more than once? Less than 20%, that’s for sure.

This frees up two valuable resources: money and space. And what do I have to pay in return for this privilege? Literally nothing. I mean, my property and income taxes, sure, but I was paying those anyway.

In addition to physical books, the library grants me access to a lot of cool digital content. Newspaper access, ebooks, movies, audiobooks. And I don’t have to leave the comfort of my home for it either, just type in my library card number and have a world of DRM’d information right at my fingertips.

Plus, my library gives out free museum passes which, out here, is like giving out free gold. It costs a family of four (two parents, two kids) $90 to visit the science museum on a Saturday. With a free pass from the library? $0. Four for the aquarium goes from $94 retail down to $40. So on and so forth for the fine arts, contemporary arts, natural history, local history, and children’s museums. And the zoo too!

How often do you visit your local library?