If you are a reader of any sort, you probably have memories (be it from childhood or adulthood) of the library- either going there to find a new book, taking part in a program, or just spending a few hours (hopefully air-conditioned) getting lost in a good book! However, like anything else in life, there are pros and cons to a library card that may not suit a reader as much as they would like. This is a realistic look at what a library card can offer you, and what the drawbacks are!
I think that most readers will tout the benefits of a library card. While people romanticise physical books and library cards like they don’t exist anywhere in the world, there is two sides to the library card coin. For anyone who is new to the blog, I’m a fairly versatile reader. I will read ebooks and physical books, and listen to audiobooks. I know that the audiobook thing is contentious in the book world- “IS IT A BOOK?! IS IT NOT A BOOK!?”- but to me, a book is a book is a book. If you spout a speech about how physical books are superior because you can smell their pages, I will politely nod and then read my Kobo just to prove a point. Any way that you can enjoy a book, do so! And library cards can help a lot of people widen their reading world…
(I’m starting with the cons so I can end with the positive pros!)
Cons of a Library Card
1. If you live outside of the city like I do, you may have to pay separately for your library card. My card is $145 CAD per year; I read enough that it is worth it, but it is something to take into consideration when considering signing up. Also, remember that you very well have late fees and costs for specific items such as DVDs and Blu-Rays!
2. If it is a popular book, you may end up waiting several months- it often happens for me that a very popular book will become available to me 8-12 months after I have requested it. It’s very likely that I have lost interest at that point and no longer have the will, energy, or time to read it.
3. Related to that, because you may be waiting months (or books just may not be available) you may lose steam with an author or series and there isn’t much that you can do about that. One of my biggest frustration is finding a series at the library, only to find out that actually only have books # 1, 2, 4, and 7 out of an 8 book series. Not sure who decides this but it drives me nuts.
4. You have no control over when holds become available. Four books that you’ve been waiting forever to read may become available all at the same time, and there isn’t much that you can do about it, other than try to read them as quickly as you can! (My library does allow you to pause a hold, but I find it kind of gets muddled.)
5. Slow reader? If someone else has put it on hold, you have two to three weeks to read it and that’s it! I personally am a fairly fast reader but sometimes life gets in the way. I have gotten to the point that sometimes I will just cancel the hold before picking it up if I have an idea that I won’t be able to finish it.
Pros of a Library Card
1. If you are a voracious reader like myself, you will save money even if you do have to pay the cost of a card. Even factoring in the $145 CAD fee for the library card, I was able to save myself over $800 in books and audiobooks. Given all of the apps that libraries are using, we have more and more and more opportunities to borrow books and other materials, and really get our money’s worth.
2. You may take a chance on an author, book, or series that you may otherwise never have found through the library- whenever I am picking up a hold, I always swing by the “New at the Library” and “Recommended by Staff” shelves, and they usually don’t let me down.
3. You can also borrow movies, television shows, ebooks, graphic novels, and several other forms of media that you might not have realised were available! And yes, at my library you will have to pay $2 to borrow a DVD but it’s probably cheaper than renting or buying it on the Google Play or Apple stores!
4. It gives you something to do- because I do live outside of the city, if I have something in the city in the evening, I usually will stay in the city instead of wasting gas and time driving home and then back in. In the in between time, I will often just go read at a nearby library to pass the time. Not only is it free (or at least no extra cost to my card), I get to spend an hour or two enjoying myself.
5. If you absolutely hate a book (The Nest, I’m looking at you….), it’s a lot better to have simply borrowed it from the library rather than knowing that you paid your own money for something that made you angry, bored, disgusted, confused, or whatever else it may have brought out in you. There’s a little less sting to it when you know you read it for free!
6. If your library does lend ebooks, it means that you can probably still borrow new library books even when you are away from home and travelling. (Seriously, if you aren’t using ebooks, just give them a chance!! You can bring 100 books with you on a trip and not have suitcase space be a concern at all.) Between all of the apps that my library uses, I can borrow roughly 5-7 ebooks, 10 audiobooks, and 5 movies/television/music albums per month. Needless to say, I can’t ever use all of them, but it’s nice to know they are there!
Do you have a library card? What do you love and hate most about your library card?