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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Frugal reading. . . .

Lynn Truong at Wise Bread very generously sent me her copy of Rich by 30, and asked that I donate it to my local library when I'd finished.

Yesterday, I rather hesitantly walked up to the counter at my branch of the public library and asked if I could donate a book. For some reason, I was a bit nervous that they would turn me down, or ask me to fill out reams of paperwork, or consider it a waste of their time.

Instead, the woman at the counter gave me a giant grin, and thanked me profusely. I felt wonderful walking out the door, and it made me think about all the reasons I love the library:

  • I practically grew up in a library, first of all. I come from a family of voracious readers (with two librarians, a poet and English professor, and an English literature major, it's not suprising). My parents couldn't afford to buy so many books, so we hung out at the library on the weekends, picking out five or six books to last through the week.
  • On a more practical note, the library has saved me countless hundreds of dollars over the years. Last year alone, I probably saved $200, primarily because my 2007 New Year's Resolution was to stop buying so many books and instead check them out of the library. I also borrowed several books for school, which I used throughout the term, instead of buying them at inflated prices at the university bookstore.
  • The library staff is generally very helpful and friendly. They answer my questions and help me find the books I'm looking for. I've also noticed that they treat every person with the same respect, whether the person appears homeless, is a student, is elderly (or grumpy), or, like me, is simply clueless much of the time.
  • I feel like I belong to a true community when I spend time at the library. I tend to see the same people over and over again at my local branch, reading the newspaper on the weekends, spending time with their kids in the children's section, checking email on the public computers.

It's a shame that so many public library systems struggle financially----but there appear to be many opportunities to volunteer (and, apparently, donate). My grandmother was involved with the 'Friends of the Library' group in my hometown, my mom volunteered (and was then hired) by the library after she retired, and I can see myself continuing this tradition when I reach retirement age (whenever that is).

4 comments:

Yvette said...

This post made me chuckle in agreement as I recently "re-discovered" the library and all the great things it offers. As a kid my family went to the library almost weekly and I would go through stacks of books. Not sure when/how strayed away....probably during undergrad and grad schools days when the library became associated with studying, research and writing painful papers!

Needless to say Amazon and Borders received a chunk of my cash/credit card flow over the years.

I put myself on a book budget this year and was then "forced" to go the library. It was like entering the land of Oz for me and I laugh at myself for being such a dope all these years for not utilizing my local library. (laughing is sometimes better than crying when it comes to financial hindsight!)

With a move coming up where I have to pay partial shipping costs (Germany to Texas) I have sold many of my past book purchases on half.com. It's a fraction of what I spent but at least it's something.

I still buy a few new books but now go to the library or purchase used books the majority of the time.

And now you have inspired me to donate books to the library...another duh factor as I laugh because I didn't think of it myself. Thanks!

Finally Frugal said...

Yvette, I too stayed away from the library for years! It was "too much trouble", "too far away", or I wanted my book NOW, instead of waiting for it to be available. I think finally starting to conquer my need for instant gratification has helped. And the library is just so great, for so many reasons! It's free, it's clean, it's warm, the people are friendly.

So glad you also rediscovered it, and best of luck with them move---it sounds like a big one! I'll be curious to hear how you adapt (or re-adapt) to the U.S. after livingin Europe. . . .

Anonymous said...

So happy you both rediscovered the library. As a 35 year old paying down my debt librarian (do to my parents always bringing me to the library, then volunteering and then working and becoming a librarian) I have always loved the library (except maybe in college!)
I always laugh when people say "Oh, I don't go to the library I BUY my books.." like it makes them better than the rest of us. Why buy something you read once, maybe twice? Also with ipods you can borrow Cd's and I never spend money on netflix or blockbuster. Another f.y.i. is that if you see books at the bookstore and you know your library doesn't have it, if you ask them for it they will purchase it for your library! And you will be first on the list to borrow it!

Finally Frugal said...

Another thing about the public library: it's not just the 'bricks and mortar' building. I've been downloading electronic books to my MP3 player, to use while I'm running or commuting. And I have friends who get free movies from the library (I rarely have time for movies anymore, so I don't often do this---also, you need to request the video well in advance due to their popularity).

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