I have a long-term on-again, off-again relationship with libraries. I visit them every now and then and remember how unreal they are. Then I amass a huge late fee and avoid the place for a while.
I’m determined to change this old pattern and become a regular, as there are so many reasons to love libraries.
High on my love list is that they reduce clutter.
I recently culled my books. I had shelves of idle books. Books that related to past hobbies, books that I’d read once and loved, but were unlikely to ever read again, and classics that I was saving to read to my daughter, but could easily borrow from a library.
The frustrating process of finding new homes for these idle dust collectors through donating, gifting or selling has me determined to try and never ever buy another book. I’ve swapped buying for borrowing.
If my local library doesn’t have a book I’d like then I put in a request. They either purchase the book or organise an inter-library loan.
Library books are also a far more efficient use of resources, being read by dozens of people in their lifetime, rather than only one or two.
Libraries also offer much more than books.
I enjoy browsing the magazines and newspapers and have even used the library as an office. I work from home and was without an office for a few weeks during our recent move. I parked myself in a library quiet room and enjoyed the lack of distractions and free internet access.
Now my challenge is to avoid late fees.
We’ve incorporated a visit to the library into our weekly routine. I’m hoping that by visiting regularly I’ll manage to return books on time.
I’m also tackling the mysterious case of disappearing library books that usually infects our household by identifying spots for library books to live.
Hopefully, between these two tactics, I’ll continue to enjoy the benefits of our local library for a very long time and break my book-buying habit.
Are you taking advantage of what your local library has to offer?
[Originally published in my column LESS IS MORE in the The Newcastle Herald Weekender Magazine 23rd February 2013]