DO THIS DON'T: Take Yourself To The Library And Get A Library Card

I’ve held a library card in every city I’ve lived in since college.
Publish date:
December 8, 2013
free, awesome, public libraries

So what if I told you there was a place that existed, just steps away from wherever you are, that has movies, music, books, magazines, free wi-fi, clean bathrooms, events, and peace and quiet at your fingertips. All for the free? It's called the public library. And I'm obsessed.

Now before you give me a dead-eyed stare and head over to Barnes and Noble to collect a stack of magazines and hunker in a weird corner in the children’s section to read, hear me out:

Ever since I was three years old, I’ve had one consistent friend who has provided warmth, knowledge, variety, laughs--and the occasional fine. That friend has been the public library. My mom would take me every chance we got to scour the children’s section and check and re-check out my favorite tome about a cat who was loved to the point of near-suffocation by his kid owner called "Duncan And Dolores." I checked it out so much, that when it was finally discarded the library gave it to my mom and me as a gift--and I still have it to this day.

Now, going to the library may not necessarily be viewed as a "don’t" -- there’s legally no one stopping you from getting a card--but more like a "After college, who does that?" it’s-not-cool type of thing. You might think it’s fun to spend hours "sipping" the same tall latte in Starbucks while you suck out their wifi, but the library is a resource that, not unlike McDonald’s and their Salad Shakers has worked hard to stay relevant in the ever-changing 21st century-- and has succeeded in spades.

I’ve held a library card in every city I’ve lived in since college, and find myself venturing in again and again when I have a new whim I want to try and/or desperately need entertainment and have no funds to back it up.

Though I’ve gone through "rich" phases when I’ve been able to take myself out to movies and buy books and magazines, there are times when I just need to have a book for a little while, to re-watch "Party Girl" when it’s not on-demand on Netflix, or--and this has been the BEST new development --check out audiobooks and regular books on your iPad or Kindle and download them for a week’s time. It cuts your Amazon bill in half.

If not for that I would have never been able to read "Grace, A Memoir" without grumbling at how heavy it was to tote around to and fro. Grace, if you’re reading this, your life is beautiful, but oh-so-thick!

Take for instance, this summer, when I had the run of multiple branches of both a city and county library at my fingertips. Do you know how much media that is?! Like really, do you KNOW?! Over the past six months, I have had access to the following:

  • The cookbook “What Katie Ate,” by Kate Quinn Davies would have set me back $25, but I was able to pocket the cost and peruse her amazing photos and written vignettes without the rush of “Must. Cook. Now. But. Have. No. Food. Besides. Eggs. In. Fridge.”
  • Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar,” by Cheryl Strayed was a book that, after perusing, I would have spared the $12 for in retrospect just for the advice alone. But I didn’t have to!
  • The movie “Lola Versus” would have been about $10 in theaters, and $14 on DVD. I am a huge fan of Greta Gerwig, and I missed this when it was in theaters. It was great to watch and re-watch again just for the one-liners from Zoe Lister-Jones alone.
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Complete First Season” is a $15 find that would have had to go on my Christmas list had I not been able to check it out. And let’s face it--I don’t know how favorably Santa would have looked upon my past year.
  • Checking out individual magazine issues of “Conde Nast Traveler,” “Elle,” and “Women’s Health” was a great way to save myself from clutter and from having to pay $20, $15, and $10 each for a subscription. And, you can win the war over reading the one good article they spotlight on the cover...and then being stuck with a $5 magazine you’re pretty much done with after the one story.

All totaled, I saved nearly $120 from this list alone - and that’s not accounting for the tons of extra titles that have passed through my hands this year. Take it from someone whose checking account is like watching a big rock be pushed up a hill that rapidly falls at the end of the month when my life is due. The library is the way to go--just to remember to bring all their stuff back and on time. because those fines are no joke.