Free books, free movies, free spaces, free lives.
Years ago, I made a t-shirt on one of those DIY sites that just said, "Libraries Are Awesome." Not the wittiest saying in the world, but a simple fact nonetheless! Growing up, I used libraries not just for books, but for sheet music, CDs, magazines, and as a free spot to gather my thoughts in near-silence. As a 20-something in the pre-Netflix age, renting DVDs seemed like an impossible perk of just being a citizen. And even though I’ve never classified myself as “a reader” (though I desperately want to), I've always felt welcomed at my local library. Libraries were awesome then—and they’re even more awesome now. During the past year, I gasped after learning that two of my dear friends didn’t have Public Library cards. (Gasped, I tell you!) Look, no judgements there. But if you aren’t taking advantage of this fine institution (either locally or online), you might just be missing out.
These days, most of the books I consume are from the library. But not just the physical books. OverDrive's Libby is just one of the many apps that libraries now use to allow you to login from anywhere and borrow millions of titles in different forms. Many ebooks can be synced with Amazon to read on the Kindle app. And I just started using the Hoopla app to listen to albums. Nothing is more satisfying than going into my library apps from the comfort of my couch, borrowing a title, and having three glorious weeks to consume it. (No, I don’t finish all of them. Yes, sometimes I have to renew them a few times. Who cares. It’s all free.)
Yes, there are still some books I do purchase, while keeping in mind that there is limited storage space in my home. The most likely candidates are reference books. For example, I recently bought Taking Charge of Your Fertility, which I’m vigorously highlighting and will surely return to over and over in the coming years. (Sidenote: if you are a woman and don’t have this book, it’s teaching me approximately one million things we all should’ve learned during puberty. And it ain’t just about fertility. It’s a bible on our bodies. Get it. In fact, I think it should be required reading for all genders, whether borrowed or bought.)
And as someone who has a published book for sale, do I want you to spend money on it? Well, sure. (It’s a highlight-friendly reference book, after all!) But not if you a) don’t have the money, b) don’t have the room to store it (after doing a big purge, of course), or c) just want to be frugal and consume fewer things, even if they’re things you love.
Which brings me back to super-cool libraries. Aside from the books you can download from anywhere, there are myriad other perks. Some of those are online. And some perks are inside the actual library (locations may vary, of course).
Here are a handful:
Free (or cheap) printing
Free, um, books!
Free DVDs. (Like even big studio movies that were made recently... If classics aren’t your thing.)
Free classes and workshops and readings and community gatherings
Free peace and quiet
Free memberships to otherwise-expensive things like Lynda.com (I’ve been taking a music course on Lynda for zero dollars, simply because I have a Los Angeles public library card. Otherwise, it’d cost nearly $30 per month. Seriously, thank you, L.A. library!)
Free air conditioning, usually (a summer haven)
I mean...what are you waiting for??
If there’s a little voice inside you saying: “But owning books is a part of who I am!”—and you have the credit card bill to prove it—then I offer up this short Instagram post about parting with (even a few) of those dusty tomes.
Then think about re-embracing your local library.
What’s old is new again. Freedom is at your fingertips...and it’s free. Let me know how you do.
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