The Pros and Cons of a Library Card

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!

The Pros and Cons of a Library Card

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? 

Until tomorrow,
The Historian!
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14 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of a Library Card

  1. Hannah March 26, 2018 / 6:14 am

    When I moved back home after uni I re-registered at the library with every intention of using it… But I haven’t yet! I love the idea of being able to borrow books but our local library that I can easily walk to is only a small library, has obscure opening hours, and hardly has any of the books I’d want to read there. So I’d have to request them over from the main library to the local one and then have to pick them up within a certain amount of time of the book arriving there. If I wanted to go to our main library it would cost me £1.50 to park in town for an hour (so £3 for a return trip there) which when I can pick up second hand books for that I kind of argue it’s not worth it. Plus the 2 week thing worries me. Sometimes I can easily get through a book in 2 weeks but other times 2 weeks is too short 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • anhistorianabouttown March 26, 2018 / 6:31 am

      I completely understand what you mean- thankfully I don’t have to pay to park, but a trip into the library is usually around $2-4 of gas. I will only go when I’m at work and in the city now, but now with Agnes it gets tougher. I want to be home as soon as possible to see her and get her dinner, which is fine if I’m just picking up holds but less so if I actually want to look around. I could go at lunch but that’s when I go to the gym and I’m really trying to make a concentrated effort to keep going. This is exactly why I wrote this post- in theory, libraries are amazing but in reality, don’t necessarily fit as well into our lives as we would like. If they could do delivery (I would pay a small fee) to my office, I would read almost exclusively library books!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. thehomeplaceweb March 26, 2018 / 9:09 am

    I am horrified that you have to pay to use your library! Our library is free here, and they have all kinds of activities for kids like 3D printing and Makerspace to encourage them to use it. They also have daytime social groups like knitting, coloring and book clubs. I feel blessed to have a wonderful small branch in the village where I live, as they are very good at ordering books in for you, and usually the wait is not too long, but sometime I agree they all come in at once! The main library publishes a master list of new releases coming out next season and you can go online yourself and pre-order months before the book comes out, so if you are quick you can be number one on the list! I do all my holds and renewals and reservations online, so you can see if there are 65 people ahead of you, and so you may decide to buy instead. Lately I discovered a Canadian discount book outlet which is good for browsing….very cheap prices….but not so good for bestsellers. I ordered some books on Paris and Jane Austen books there recently. They also have a US site.

    Liked by 1 person

    • anhistorianabouttown March 26, 2018 / 9:46 am

      I have to pay because I don’t live in Winnipeg, and so don’t pay taxes to the city who runs the library! My RM does have a small library, but it is tiny (smaller than an individual branch in the city), mostly French, a 20 minute drive away, and only open for about 3 hours in the week that I can actually get there. You can see hold numbers, but a lot of people in Winnipeg seem to keep their book longer than 3 weeks (and just pay the fine, I suppose). I wish they would have a list available, they don’t release a list until they are physically there 😦

      Liked by 2 people

    • anhistorianabouttown March 26, 2018 / 9:47 am

      Also, Book Outlet is great! I’m trying to limit my physical book buying because I don’t know where I will end up and I already have soooooooo many books to move, but I use it for gifts!!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Meryn March 26, 2018 / 9:37 am

    OK, I have questions: 1) Why do you have to pay for a library card? You mentioned you live outside the city but I don’t understand how that affects you having to pay for it- you pay taxes (some of which go to the library) therefore the card should be free right? I need some clarity on this.
    2) (and related) You have to pay to rent DVD’s?
    I was going to ask about being able to renew books but then I re-read that point. But come to think of it- can you renew books at all? Please say yes, cause otherwise there’s an issue. Seriously though- why do you have to pay for a card?

    I’ll add another pro (yay positive!) the resources- classes, help with finding a job etc that libraries have. I need to take advantage of them more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • anhistorianabouttown March 26, 2018 / 9:42 am

      I don’t live in Winnipeg or pay taxes to Winnipeg, so I have to pay for a card! My RM has a library that is mostly French and smaller than most individual branches in the city. It’s also about 20 minutes away, so no more convenient than the city. And yes, you have to pay to borrow DVDs from the library in Winnipeg! (That has always been the case, for wear and tear.) And yes, haha, you can renew a book if there are no holds on it!
      In Winnipeg, those services are mainly available at the downtown library- fairly inconvenient for most people. They also only offer those during working hours!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. gigglingfattie March 26, 2018 / 10:19 am

    Thank goodness you put that song in at the end because I was like “if she doesn’t, I’m not sure we can be friends” haha! And paying for a library card?! I’ve never heard of that!!

    I’ve found this little tiny library right near my house, which is part of the Toronto branches, but it’s so small that a lot of the popular books are always there. It has crap hours but it’s within walking distance. Although I don’t really understand that hold system here: I found 3 audiobooks online from this specific branch and I put them all on hold to be picked up there and I thought “they will just pull them from the shelves and lay them aside” but no! 2/3 came from different branches!! It was so strange!


  5. josypheen March 26, 2018 / 10:32 am

    I have honestly never heard of paying for a library card! I guess it makes sense if you don’t pay taxes in that city, but that is more expensive that I would have expected. It’s great that you make use of it though!

    I didn’t sign up for the library here in Vancouver yet, but i used to use it a lot in London. I am surprised to hear you wait so long for books. My local library in London was tiny, but they could always transfer books in from other branches, so I never had to wait more than a week to get my hands on a book!


  6. tahenryauthoress March 26, 2018 / 11:36 am

    A couple of things I LOVE.
    A) Our local library system is county based and there are more than 50 of them in cities all over the county and the card works at all of them. Find yourself 40 miles from home, check out books no problem. AND you can return them to any library in the system.
    B) E books. Download from anywhere with a connection. I “checked” out like 12 books while in Germany.
    The only con I have is with one branch that pulls it’s holds randomly. So the email might say you have 7 days to pick it up, but often if you go on day 5 or 6, it’s already gone.


  7. CelesteMiller March 26, 2018 / 1:03 pm

    Man, this post certainly speaks to my book-nerd self 🙂 I don’t have to earn my card near as much (I suppose my taxes pay for it, though I had no idea there was such a thing as having to pay for a library card in the first place — apparently I’m a sheltered soul!), but I appreciate the hell out of it regardless of that, and regardless of the cons. It’s eternally cool that I can have free access to books all around my city, whenever I’m so motivated as to go after them 😛 thanks for sharing this!


  8. Jessica May 18, 2018 / 9:23 am

    I love my library card..I have three different libraries that I use. I typically use it for ebooks. So convenient. Waitlisted books can take a VERY long time, and they typically become available all at the same time, but it beats spending money on books. I used to keep all of my physical books, but I move so frequently that now I only keep a select few. I love donating books to my local little book library on the street, and to libraries to re-sell.


    • anhistorianabouttown May 19, 2018 / 4:59 am

      That’s exactly it- given the opportunity, I could easily spend thousands a year on books! And realistically given how many books I read, I don’t have a ton of time to keep re-reading anyways. My only frustration is that the branch near my work is closed for work for the summer, and living out of town it has made my library trips much more difficult 😐


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