January Money Diet Day 15 – Visit the Library


Concord Public Library

Concord Public Library | Photo: Liz West

Once upon a time, if I was interested in a book I simply visited the website of an especially large online bookstore and clicked on a convenient little button that read “Buy now with 1-Click.”

Soon we had so many books we had to install custom bookshelves that covered an entire wall of the living room. When we moved a few years later, we hauled 26 cartons of books along with us. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m a writer, and I love books. But one day, I was trying to squeeze another new book on the shelves and realized we had run out of space. I sat down, gazed at all the books, and realized that many of them were books I had enjoyed once but was unlikely to read again.

I began giving books away, and decided to be  more selective about which volumes deserved a place in our pared-down collection. My new mantra was this:

  • I’ll only buy books I really love.
  • I prefer hardbacks if they’re available.
  • Used books are fine with me.
  • I’ll try to buy books from an independent bookstore.

I also decided to pay a visit to the neighborhood library. Today, if I’m interested in a book I simply visit my library’s website and reserve the book. My library e-mails me when the book is ready to be picked up.  I also borrow movies, CDs and current magazines from my library. This year I even downloaded several books on my e-reader from our library’s website. The books mysteriously disappear at the end of the lending time, but the technology is still amazing to me.

When my computer died a few years ago, I went to the library and used one of their free computers until mine was fixed. When my daughter was shopping for a used car, she borrowed Consumer Reports magazine and researched the most reliable makes and models. Our library offers a delightful kids’ library and a summer reading program that my son loves, free talks on a variety of subjects, a wonderful writers’ group, meeting and study rooms, and regular art exhibits.

This year our library partnered with our local power company to loan out portable power meters. We were able to borrow a meter to plug into home appliances and learn how much energy we’re using. Our library also lends Nook e-readers, and offers demonstrations of Google Glasses. What a cool place!

Today’s Homework Assignment: Visit your local library in the next few days, and let us know what you discover.


The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

January Money Diet Day 15 – Visit the Library

  • Carolyn

    Libraries? Love ’em! That $100 coffee table book we just returned? How great is that? Yes, I reserve and search online when I can’t get in. And, like you, when computer is down, off to the library! Magazines, DVDs, CDs, programs, resale! We could never move if we had to leave our library district!

  • Julia

    I love the library! We go often. My son loves the summer reading program. At the end of the summer they have a big festival for all the kids who participated with food and activities including a bouncy house, always a favorite. They even have puppets you can check out. I have used some of the puppets for our vacation bible school at church.

  • Mea Johnson

    I have mentioned the use of the library in earlier posts and I have to say again, WE LOVE IT! We have taken classes, listened to performers, watched movies, gone to story and poetry slams, checked out movies, books, CD’s, books on CD/online, and built wonderful relationships with the super folks who work there. I think it is important to remember to invest in relationships…we would be in a horrible state if we didn’t have the folks who run these institutions that give us so much for free! I have found so much knowledge and support for workshops, classes and an openness to try new things. I use to be terrible at returning my material on time and would rack up crazy late fees, the worst being a $103.00 fee, after it seemed that they needed to charge me replacement on 3 books and then the fees for not returning them for months! I returned all the materials, paid the fee and vowed to be better. Yesterday, I was checking my late fee amount and with happiness I discovered that it not moved from the 5.00 that it had been at 6 months earlier,(after 10.00, you can no longer check out materials), and the Librarian, who has been there for years, reached over the counter and gave me a high five! It really was that desperate!!

  • Karen

    Thanks for plugging the library, Eliza. I’m a retired librarian and I couldn’t have said it better myself. Many people are not aware how relevant the libraries try to stay. The only thing I’d add is that if you have children, especially small ones, the library is a great place for story times and other kid and family programming. And if you have a favorite senior who isn’t computer literate, most libraries have a variety of free computer classes that will have them on email and Facebook in no time.

  • SanDandy

    I have used the library all of my life. Where we currently live they also sell books ranging from .10 to 1.00 for most. One library even sent to the East Coast for a very old book I wanted to read at no cost to me. Our current library even ordered a book I requested that they did not own.


    Our library also has State Park passes for checkout allowing free admission to all state and historical parks(value up to $36 for 4 people) and also offers a video about our local Zoo that you watch and then receive an admission voucher good for 7 days with a value of $70!
    In Florida where my grandparents retired you could check out bags of toys and games. Great idea huh?
    We LOVE our library!

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