I have many happy memories of visiting the library as a kid. It was always so cosy, and the supply of books seemed limitless. More to the point, it allowed me to sustain my voracious appetite for reading without bankrupting my poor parents.
At some point in my teens, I stopped using the library. I’m really not sure why – it was probably a combination of factors, like the Kindle I got when I was seventeen and the desire to read specific books which my library didn’t have.
Recently, I ran out of reading material. All the books on my wish list were expensive, even in eBook format. I was stuck. I considered getting some second-hand books from the charity shop, where they’re usually only 50p. But being a minimalist, I didn’t want physical books cluttering up my room. That was when I had an epiphany – I could get a library card. Or two, in fact; I was given a mini one to put on my keyring, which I got a bit too excited about!
It was one of the best ideas I’ve ever had (I may be exaggerating a bit, but not by much). It’s incredible to walk into a room full of books and be able to take home whichever ones you like at absolutely no expense. On my first trip, I even found one of the books on my wish list!
You can also find music and films at a fraction of the cost you’d normally pay for them. Since you take them back when you’re done with them, they don’t sit around gathering dust for years. Many libraries now let you borrow eBooks from their website too.
If you have a writing or editing job, the library is an ideal place to work. It gets you out of the house, it’s warm and there are often free computers and WiFi. Plus there’s no obligation to buy anything, and you can stay all day.
Libraries are also ideal in terms of sustainability. More people using libraries means fewer books being printed, and therefore fewer resources being used. I really feel that we need to move towards sharing things, rather than everyone owning one of everything. Libraries are a perfect example of this at work.
Since the 2008 recession, hundreds of libraries have been threatened with closure and many have reduced their opening hours. This is a real shame, and is no doubt occurring at least in part because most adults don’t use library services (though another factor is that the government don’t have their priorities straight when it comes to funding. There’s always enough money for weapons, funnily enough).
So get yourself a library card, especially if you’re short on cash! It’s a great way to move towards a more sustainable way of life, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. Or maybe you already have one? I’d love to hear your thoughts.