Monday, May 4, 2009

Book Lover's Recession Tips #2: Friend Your Local Library!

Alright book lovers. Time to dust off that library card you haven't used since 1990 and head over to your local branch. Let's face it, how many times do you really read all those books that you buy? My guess is probably once or twice. So instead of shelling out money for something you are going to read once and forget about, why not borrow it instead?

If you haven't been to your library in a long time, it might not be anything like you remember. Libraries across the nations are embracing technology. So if you live in a big enough city, chances are your library offers digital content for download. The best part? No late fees! Most libraries use Adobe Digital Editions so your book simply "expires" when you need to return it. In some cases for music, you can even burn yourself a copy to CD.

The only bad part is, the number of ebooks and mp3s available at one time to download depends on the number of licenses the library has. So while you will get instant gratification for some titles, you will have to wait in line for the more popular titles. But with all the other great things going on at the library, we will find you something else to read while you wait.

Holds/Reservations/Waiting List
Most libraries have also issued a new hold or reservation policy. Say you are dying to read the next Anita Blake, Mercy Thompson, Skip Beat or Southern Vampire novel. Yeah, you and about 200 other people. So instead of having to stake out the library stacks to grab a copy, most libraries have a waiting list for titles. You sign up online and get a lovely email when your book is ready for you to pick up at the branch of your choice. Talk about good customer service!

Interlibrary Loan and Requests
So... what happens if your library doesn't have Banana Fish Volume 18 or Kresley Cole's next Immortals After Dark book? You can always ask your local library to buy a copy! In fact, you should really make this a habit. Libraries try to stock books that their patrons will read. So if you don't ask for it, they will keep buying books you aren't interested in. Most libraries have cards at the check-out counter or information desk you can fill out. Some systems will allow you to make requests online.

And don't be shy about requesting a book, you would be surprised at all the books you can find in your library. My library has an entire section of umm... somewhat racy fiction that isn't on the shelves. But if you ask a librarian about it, they will get them for you. If my library carries the complete Letters to the Penthouse there is no telling what else is hiding out in the basement.

Libraries are also exploring alternative publishers and publishing houses. Books from many of the print on demand operations are popping up in libraries. If you are impressed with an up and coming epublisher, bring their attention to your local librarian. You might be just the break they need!

You can also try for interlibrary loans. Most library systems are on good terms with surrounding cities and universities. So if you can find the book somewhere else, your library might be able to borrow it on your behalf.

Now, the original purpose of the interlibrary loan was so normal people could have access to otherwise private libraries and rare books. But your librarian is happy about the fact you are reading at all. So they won't really care if you request a copy of Death Note 13 instead of the latest translation of the Iliad. Check your library for rules. Usually really new and really old books are hard to borrow. Just because new books are popular and old books are hard to replace if you lose them.

Public Service Announcement in Closing
Support your libraries! Your local library is a wonderful, but overlooked place. Besides books, DVDs, magazines and CDs, they offer wonderful programing on many topics. My library has a music, theatre or art program every Sunday. Granted some weekends are people I have never heard of, they are always free and entertaining. But with the economic crunch, most library budgets are getting cut. So if your library is helping you save money and maintain your reading lifestyle, try to give back some of the savings with either a donation of time or money.

If you are in a playful mood, most libraries will let you put a bookplate in the book of your choice if you donate around $50 to them. And the best part is, you don't have to put your name on it. *teehee* Dedicating a copy of Everybody Poops by Taro Gomi to your phsyco boss could be pretty satisfying. >_< The ideas are endless.

Finally, treat library books with care and return them on time. Some libraries have upped the late fees to $1/ day! We have enough creditors as it is, no point in owing the public library money on top of that. We are trying to save money here!

Next week's tip -> Used bookstores and library book sales



aoi_aka said...

*huggles local libraries* The library for the township where I live is small in comparison to the library close to where I work. But I was able to get through interlibrary loan, the Nightrunner series and The Great Mirro of Male Love by Ihara Saikaku (they got that one from De Paul University). I had to pay a small fee but it was worth it so I could get my grubby hands on those titles.

Anonymous said...

"...Dedicating a copy of Everybody Poops by Taro Gomi to your phsyco boss could be pretty satisfying. >_<"

I suppose it WOULD be! (~_^)

I didn't know about digital content from the library. Way cool!

Anonymous said...

Digital content in libraries aren't limited to ebooks or eaudiobooks now either, the San Francisco Public Library just launched their new digital library. You can download books, music, and movies onto your ipod, ebook device or laptop.

And requesting books is always a good idea. There are so many books in the market that it's hard to decide what to buy, if we know someone wants to read something, then chances are we'll buy that first.

aoi_aka said...

Somebody here at work (I work in a high school library) tried to get an interlibrary loan from the township's local public library and they said they don't do that anymore. Poopie to them.

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