Get over yourself and start using the public library
It's Love Our Local Authors month — so why not love your local library?
Full disclosure: I love the public library.
Specifically, the one in my neighbourhood — the Michael Donovan Public Library — but of course, just in general, the library.
What I do not love about the library is how empty it often is.
Sure, the library offers ebook checkouts, and you can take out a virtual book — for free, like everything at the library — so fewer people need to physically walk into a branch.
But there is such a treasure trove of things accessible in the Newfoundland and Labrador Public Library system that people should really know about.
In just the first 14 days of January 2018 alone, the library saved me nearly $120 — before taxes. (If I keep this pattern all year, it will add up to over $2,500 saved.)
Here are those four books and a new release movie that I just couldn't financially justify seeing in theatres and isn't on Netflix.
In an economy where every penny counts, that's a lot of money saved.
I've put my name on the waiting list for eight on-order items, some of which aren't even published yet. I'm also on the wait list for a free "paint and tea" session, one of the many free events offered at public libraries.
Once, the only available library copy of a book I wanted to read was at the branch in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. The library sent it down at no cost to me.
And in talking about this piece, I've convinced two people (so far) at work to sign up for a library card (which you can do from any computer, by the way — you don't need to go to an actual library).
So, yeah, I love the library. And I want to know why more people don't.
What's not to love?
It could be that people don't realize how much the library has to offer. Could it really be so simple?
Personally, I'm not really into ebooks — I like physically turning pages of paper — so I'm always requesting and checking out books. But, since I don't have cable and can't afford going to the movies all the time and Jumbo Video has closed, I also borrow movies and TV shows. All for free.
There have been a few times I've gone over the three-week borrowing period and forgot to renew my loan (which you can do on the library website in a few clicks), so I have incurred some overdue fees.
At 15 cents a day (and a $5 maximum fine), it's really not breaking the bank.
Accessible to all
There are also audiobooks, children's books and large-print books.
They have magazine and newspaper subscriptions. You can use the internet at the library, or borrow book club reading kits. They have Japanese manga, graphic novels and comics, as well as talking books; descriptive and closed captioned video, and multi-language services. There's also an archive system with technicians to help you navigate it.
And in the western and Labrador parts of the province, they do books by mail (by application) for people who can't physically get to a library.
It's all about accessibility — making sure no one in our society is left out in the cold and unable to access knowledge.
Having fun really isn't hard when you have a library card
Honestly, this doesn't even cover half of the things you can do at the library.
Admittedly, navigating the NLPL website is not easy for anyone new to it — and actually going into the online catalogue to search and/or request something can be a pain. The website is outdated and not particularly user-friendly.
Calling all writers! Starting next Saturday <a href="https://twitter.com/2?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@2</a>:00 pm, The Michael Donovan Library is hosting a monthly Creative Writers' Group where you can share your work and get feedback in a mutually supportive environment. <br><br>No registration is required and new members are always welcome. <a href="https://t.co/R0QrjDNiWG">pic.twitter.com/R0QrjDNiWG</a>—@NLPubLibraries
Want some <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StormBooks?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StormBooks</a> for your family without having to leave the house? <br><br>NLPL's eLibrary has tons of eBooks and audio books for kids that you can borrow using your mobile device! Check out our collection here:<a href="https://t.co/bnclZVwQJV">https://t.co/bnclZVwQJV</a> <a href="https://t.co/Yd2ffLNHNE">pic.twitter.com/Yd2ffLNHNE</a>—@NLPubLibraries
Curious about reading full popular magazines and newspapers for FREE using our Digital Library? We're holding sessions to help you get started!<br><br>Join us on Thursday, Feb. 1 @ the AC Hunter Library from 10-11:30am. Here's some more info:<a href="https://t.co/3Lgq5USEge">https://t.co/3Lgq5USEge</a> <a href="https://t.co/Ip14V2ulmx">pic.twitter.com/Ip14V2ulmx</a>—@NLPubLibraries
But, if you call or walk into the library (at least, the Michael Donovan one) and ask someone to show you how to use their website, they will happily show you.
In defence of public libraries
There are always going to be books you'll want to purchase. There's nothing wrong with spending some cash on a good book and supporting authors.
At least for myself, the library lets me pick up a book I'm not sure about, but want to read it without having to compromise my (let's face it, near non-existent) financial plan.
If I read the book and know that I'll re-read it, or think it would be a great gift for someone else, then I'll buy it. Or sometimes there's just a really good sale on and I can't help myself. Or I literally judge a book by its cover and splurge.
But the library is an undervalued, underfunded, underrated community gem that deserves your attention and patronage.
And you deserve it.