Welcome to Green Boot Camp

Welcome to Green Boot Camp blog, a 52-week program to help you become a greener you in 2008. This is the companion blog to The Lean Green Family (formerly Suddenly Frugal).

Monday, August 4, 2008

Week 29--Dust Off Your Library Card

In our 24/7 retail world, it almost too easy to buy anything--day or night. With websites like Amazon.com, why would anyone ever go to the library? Well, that was my thinking for many years, which is how I managed to spend about $800 a year on books. Yes, that's also why my home looks like a library but I don't receive state funding or grants or anything. Nonetheless, it really is wasteful to think about reading a book once and never touching it again.

One of my resolutions when I started The Lean Green Family (formerly Suddenly Frugal) was to stop buying books and start borrowing them from the library. And since I made that resolution more than a year ago, I've purchased one book for myself. It was Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. The only reason I ended up breaking my resolution was I was going on a business trip, needed something to read, and the wait list for Three Cups of Tea through the library was just too long. (Great book, by the way. While it was a bit overwritten, I highly recommend it, and I hope it gets made into a movie.)

Now that I'm back on track with borrowing books from the library, I'd like you to make this change as well. So this week in Green Boot Camp, I'd like you to get out your library card and start using it. Don't have a library card? Then get thee to your local branch and apply for one. (You'll need to bring identification that proves that you live locally.)

Some libraries charge a nominal amount for a new card--especially if you once had one and lost it. Yeah, I learned this lesson the hard way when I had to fork over $3 to "reactivate" by library account. But that's OK. Three bucks is just a drop in the bucket when compared with the cost of a new book.

Hopefully, your library system offers an online option like mine does. It's great because I can do this: when I read about a great book in a magazine or newspaper, or hear an author speaking on TV or the radio, and want to read his/her book, I can log onto my library's website and reserve the book. Sometimes the staff just has to pull the book off the shelf at the library around the corner, and call me to come pick it up; other times they need to "order" the book from another branch, and it gets to me in a few days. In those rare instances where there is a waiting list, it could take weeks to get the book I'm dying to read (which is how I grew impatient with Three Cups of Tea).

One of the reasons that I love this online-reservation option is it allows me to "get" books the same way I used to when I was buying them off of Amazon or Barnes & Noble. I would hear about a book that piqued my interest, and I would log on to buy it. With the library system, I get to go through the same motions, except I don't have to enter my credit card number to complete the transaction. I just click on the "reserve" button, and then I can expect a call or email from the library when the book is ready for me to pick it up.

It really was a painless change to make. Think you can do it, too? Good luck and happy reading.


Di Hickman said...

Yup I've been a library goer for a while but more so in the last few months since I discovered their online service. Being able to browse the catalogue and request from neighboring libraries ROCKS!

Anonymous said...

The online component is a great feature. So good that I'm forever ordering more books than I can read, renewing them easily over and over, and then "supporting" the library with the fines when I'm madly trying to finish the books past the due dates! Libraries are great; tons of music, sheet music even, books on tape, DVD's. There are lots of online library features that are worth having a card for as well.

Anonymous said...

I also like the library, but for books that I absolutely MUST own, I use Bookmooch.com where you can trade your old books for other people's unwanted books for only the price of shipping. It's not a bad deal overall, especially if you limit your shipping to your country or set yourself a bookmooch budget for the month. You should check it out.