Tag Archives: libraries

To the Library, and Beyond!

As a student about to start her master’s in library and information science, it probably won’t come as a surprise that I, you know, like libraries. Throughout high school and some of college I probably single-handedly kept my public library in business with my excessive fines. I know some people will go to the library, pick out a book or maybe two, then return it and find another. My library style has always been a bit more gluttonous: grab everything that looks interesting off the shelves. A week or two of fines adds up when you have fifteen to twenty overdue items. With the help of phone alarms and e-mail reminders, my on-time return rate has greatly improved in recent years.

The past few weeks have taken my appreciation of libraries on a very practical level. On one of my mom and sister’s last nights in Seattle, we watched Matilda together. While watching the disdain of Mr. Wormwood, Matilda’s father, for reading, libraries, and anything remotely intellectual, I was struck by an important but fleeting thought: I’m lucky to have been born into a family that loves the library as much as I do. One of my earliest memories is my mom doing up my hair for the Beach Day-themed story hour, and the highlight of middle school was the annual system-wide interlibrary “Battle of the Books” competition. So I suppose I’ve taken libraries and easy library-access for granted, just based on their continual presence in my own life.

As I mentioned last post, my apartment for August has no WiFi. I do have a smartphone, for which I’m grateful, but I have a limited data plan and too much impatience to use it for sending e-mails or messages longer than a sentence or two. It’s like trying to live on Ramen after years of dining hall meals – endurable, but hardly satiating. And my first month in Seattle has definitely given me experience in being creative with limited resources, both virtual and victual.

Coffee shops have been my first destination for Internet access. I have a found a few rare gems – coffeehouses with plentiful seating, power outlets, and low prices. But even the cheapest coffee shop still costs a few dollars, and I feel guilty for staying past the end of my tea. While I’m writing this, I’m actually at the coffee shop with the best drinks I’ve had in Seattle yet, but the worst WiFi. I’m lucky if I can get it to work for five minutes. At the moment, it’s not working at all.

At any rate, enter the library. The magical solution to all the world’s problems. Honestly, my dad had to suggest it to me when I explained my dilemma. At first I brushed off the suggestion, thinking that since I’m not yet able to get a library card (as I lack proof of address/Washington State ID), so I can only use their computers for thirty minutes at a time. Then it occurred to me that I could bring my laptop and use their WiFi for free. For as long as I wanted. So I’ve started spending lots of time at the library, either on my computer or reading books. Unfortunately, as I have no card, I can’t check things out. But I can use their Internet to look for jobs, housing, catch up on my Netflix. And just sit there and read books for free, so I don’t fall too terribly far behind on my 2013 GoodReads goal. The possibilities are endless.

IF YOU LOVE BOOKS AND LIBRARIES AND HAVEN’T EVER SEEN THE PAGEMASTER, YOU’VE BEEN MISSING OUT.

So this blog post has mainly been a combo testimonial and public service announcement. Don’t take your local libraries for granted. They’re a brilliant resource that do more than provide written entertainment for the masses. Next time your computer or WiFi or television breaks, if you want something new to read but it’s not in the budget – head to your library. Add them on Facebook, or check out their summer programming. And for those of you that already have, if you’re anything like me, I suggest you check your due dates!

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Book Binging for the Broke

Friends and devoted readers of this blog might know that I have no qualms about playing favorites when it comes to seasons. What’s not to love about summer? Ice cream cones from that drip all over your hand, no matter how old you get; trips to the beach that only cost you a sunburn; constant outdoor parades and picnics and paloozas galore! As much as I enjoy these festivities, however, I have to admit that my favorite summer activity generally causes long hours indoors in a somewhat sloth-like state: book binging.

Me, age three, collapsed on the couch with a pile of books and my cat. Some things never change…

Book binges are primarily a summer indulgence. Even though I usually work over summer and have a few other side projects going, the absence of homework allows me to go through books rapidly, sometimes three or four in a single day. Sadly, as a soon-to-be grad student, I don’t have as much money to spend on books as I would like. Although there was no stealing involved, all of the above books were acquired through copious amounts of begging and borrowing. Whether you’re short on cash or just trying to save a few books, I thought you might appreciate suggestions for feeding one’s ravenous inner bookworm without breaking the bank.

  1. There is no better source for free books than your local library. Aside from their own collections, libraries often have interlibrary loan systems set up so you can request books your own branch might not have. Something that I’ve only recently discovered, though, is my library systems fairly extensive e-book collection. If you have trouble getting to your library for whatever reason, many libraries allow you to borrow e-books and audio books online. It’s great for when I’m looking for something to read late at night.
  2.  Public domain is your friend; if you have any interest in older works, try looking for books whose copyrights have expired. There are many databases, such as Project Gutenburg, that have classics available to read online or download as PDFs or audio files. Louisa May Alcott and L. M. Montgomery are two of my favorite public domain authors. One of my favorite features of my Kindle Touch is that I can e-mail PDFs to my device and have them converted to e-book form; those with tablets, smart phones, or other e-readers might investigate if their devices offer similar services.

    Me, age twenty. Different format, same bookworm tendencies.

  3.  Follow publishers’ social media accounts. Publishing companies frequently offer special deals on e-books, often to promote interest in an upcoming sequel or new release by the same author. Whether you use Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr, publishers are a good choice to follow. Libraries, librarians, and authors themselves also often share book deals. WriteWorld, a tumblr dedicated to providing writing advice, has compiled a great directory of writing resources on Tumblr, including those of authors and publishers.
  4. Raid your sister’s bookshelf. Okay, I said there was no stealing involved, so maybe “raid” is not the right word. Nevertheless, some of my favorite books have been discovered amongst my sisters’ books. I started Harry Potter when my older sister, in the midst of Chamber of Secrets, left Sorcerer’s Stone on her bed. I fell in love with Melina Marchetta when I wheedled my little sister into letting me extract Saving Francesca from her stack of library books. In return, I have lent her more books than I can count. Even if you don’t have sisters, consider setting up an exchange with friends or family who have similar tastes.
  5.  Although I’m sure freebies have existed as long as humankind itself, I believe the Internet has ushered us into the Golden Age of Giveaways. Obviously there’s a lot of scams out there, and you want to be careful what information you give out over the Internet. However, for those who might prefer paper books to e-books, book bloggers, authors, and tumblr users often give away free books in order to connect with readers. GoodReads also has a page for giveaways.
  6.  This one may be for the true scrimp-and-pinchers. When I was in high school, I usually didn’t have much money for books. My weekend plans usually included begging my parents to “abandon” me at the nearest Borders (R.I.P.). There I would spend hours reading an entire book. While I haven’t indulged in this practice in quite awhile, it’s a nice way to spend a day.

Don’t get me wrong. For authors I admire, I am usually more than willing to spend my money to purchase their work. And I want more than anything for bookstores, especially local bookstores to stay in business. However, when times are tight, sometimes it’s good to have a few extra ways to read a little more and spend a little less. Besides, if I read a book I love for free, when the author’s next release comes out, I’m usually first in line, ready to buy it at whichever bookstore’s closest.

Stay tuned for my upcoming review of Sarah Dessen’s new book, The Moon and More – a summer read if there ever was one.

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