I get all of my books from the Nashville Public Library. It’s not the best library system I have used, since I was spoiled in my former life by Cincinnati Public (one of the top 10 systems in the country) and Kenton County Public (my childhood library, best in Kentucky by far, and my mom’s employer). It makes me sad to think of the selection of audiobooks I used to be able to get from Cincinnati Public when I would swing by after my graduate classes. But Nashville has what I really need, and there have only been a few books I was not able to get from our library. Luckily, our neighborhood library is only about a block away from my house!
I utilize the library to the limit they allow. I typically have between 20 and 25 items out at a time, and the limit is 25. I usually have at least 10 holds, although most of these are for books that are not out yet or very popular, so I’m just in a line. I keep most items as long as I am allowed, which is usually 3 weeks for items that are in demand and 9 for items that only I want.
I’m afraid if all library patrons were like me, the taxes for the libraries would be insane. They would still be worth it, but people would complain a lot more.
Tomorrow (Saturday, January 7), the downtown library will be hosting a reading of Henry VI, part 1. It’s the first in a series called Shakespeare Allowed; they’ll meet at noon on the first Saturday of every month. Over the course of the next 3 years, they will read all of Shakespeare’s plays aloud, in order. Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to say that you’ve read all of Shakespeare’s plays? I have a schedule conflict, so I won’t be able to attend this month, but I do hope to go to later gatherings. I just wanted to mention this series because it’s a great example of why libraries rock, and in case anyone I know in Nashville is reading and might find out about it this way.
Doesn’t my reliance on libraries cost writers and bookstores money? Why don’t I buy more books? I love bookstores, and in many cases I do want to support writers monetarily. The main reason is that I am cheap. There are very few things that I would spend money on when I can get them for free. Second, I want to save space in my house. Until I have a room with walls entirely lined in bookshelves, and that is a dream of mine, I will probably have boxes of books in an attic, and that seems like a shame. Third, audiobooks are way too expensive, so I’m certainly not going to buy those, and that might eliminate almost half the books I read. Fourth, I don’t often re-read books, so I prefer to buy books I haven’t read yet, and there’s no guarantee I’ll love a book I haven’t read. Now that I’m finished with school, the times when I do buy books, they’re often sequels of books I did love, and eagerly anticipated books that I know would have long wait lists at the library. Sometimes this strategy has served me well (Harry Potter), and sometimes it has not (Breaking Dawn, the Sookie Stackhouse books).
I buy books when I’m going to meet the author, so that I can add a signed copy to my collection. And I buy books as gifts more often than for any other reason. Books are my favorite gifts to give.