I’m back to being the owner again of a device that opens a treasure chest, a chest that contains aisles and floor levels and computers filled with books.
All hail the Library Card.
I hadn’t stepped into my library since my now-adult son was a child. Over a decade.
What about you? Are you missing out on your city’s treasure? When was the last time you visited your library? Here are five great reasons for a writer to use old faithful — the public library.
1) Save Money
As I save up to buy a MacBook Air, I’ve stopped buying books. So the library has become not only a writing friend, but also a budget helper. Now, instead of filling my Amazon.com cart with writing books and novels, I head to the library and fill my bag.
Average cost of a hardcover book at Amazon.com: $26.00
Leaving the library with a stack of hardcover books and a few dollars closer to owning a MacBook Air: Priceless
Most libraries also have book sales on a regular basis, if you can’t resist adding just one more to your bookshelf.
And have you ever purchased a book and were sorry you did so after reading a few pages? If you had checked it out from the library, the only thing you would have wasted was your time.
2) Discover New Authors
If you don’t have a budgetary inspiration to step through the doors, as I did, you might not feel the need to use the library. But think about this: While you’re walking down the aisle, your head cocked to the side as you search for your favorite author, what if you came upon an intriguing title? You’d have the opportunity to leaf through it and give it a try. For free. You won’t have that experience at Amazon. The list of “customers who bought this item also bought” books are usually the same topic or author.
At the fiction aisles of the library, the only thing the authors will have in common is the first letter of their last names.
3) Psst! There’s More
Besides finding print books at your local library, you’ll most likely also find:
- Downloadable audio and e-books and audio books
- Internet connection
- Laptops for rent
- Research material (onsite and online)
- Computer classes
- Book Club packets
My library has all of that plus classical music groups, writer workshops, children’s story time, speakers, art exhibits, and more than I ever knew, featured on a regular basis.
Just for Fun: Ever heard of the CIA’s World Factbook? I didn’t until I saw it listed by my library. It’s impressive, with information and thousands of photos for 267 nations. (You paid for them, taxpayer, so download away!) Check it out here.
4) The Sounds of Silence
Cell phones were not a part of everyday life when I was a regular library patron. So, when mine rang during my first visit in years, I was horrified. The next time I visited, I placed my phone on “vibrate” before I even got out of the car.
Even with the tap-tapping on the computer keyboards and the occasional laughter and questions of children, there was a nice quietness to the library. People either had their eyes on a computer screen, on the printed page, or they were looking for a story to settle into for a glorious couple of hours.
It felt like being home on a chore-less day, except there was no doorbell ringing, no temptation to hop up and do the laundry, and no limit to the books on my shelves.
We were all there in search of something to read.
5) Reading Improves Your Writing
Writers hear that, read that, and say that truth. And what better place to be than the library, which promotes reading as the most wonderful activity. The people who work there are aching to give you all the reading material you could want or ever need. They want to help you make reading a habit.
When I visited today, I asked about the checkout limit.
“You can take 100 books if you’d like.” She smiled at me. I thought she was kidding. She wasn’t.
Notice how the library staff cater to their visitors. You can return your books by mail, in bins, or inside. You can renew over the phone, via the website, or in person.
If the book you want is not available, they’ll track it down and reserve it for you.
There is no excuse, then, for a writer with a library in town to ever be without an inspiring novel or informative book in tow. What we read and live is what shapes and fills our stories.
So, if you’ve been like me, having long forgotten your public library, then find time to rediscover the pearl that it is. Use the library as another tool to build up your writing life.
What do you like best about your public library?