Day 15 of the January Money Diet – Explore Your Local Library

In case you’ve just joined us, the January Money Diet is a challenge to take a 31-day break from nonessential spending. You can learn more about the money diet here — and jump right in!

Discover the library at Happy Simple Living blog

Snowy sculpture at Koelbel Library

Back when I was an executive with a generous salary but a scarcity of time, if I was interested in a book I simply visited the website of a particularly 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 I sat down and gazed at all the books and realized many of them were outdated, unwanted — or simply books that I had enjoyed once but was unlikely to read again.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:  I’ll only buy books I really love, I prefer hardbacks if they’re available, and 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. 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, 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. Check with your utility company or library to see if a similar lending program is in place.

Homework assignment #15: Visit your local library this week, and let us know what you discover.

The signature for Eliza Cross


Win a Deluxe Happy Simple Living Gift Basket

In honor of the January Money Diet, I’ll be giving away a gift box chock-full of home and garden goodies and a signed copy of my latest book 101 things To Do With Bacon. On January 31, 2013, I’ll draw one random name from everyone who commented during the month and that lucky person will win the gift basket. I hope you’ll stop by often this month and share your own ideas, thoughts and experiences about taking a 31-day break from nonessential spending.


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.

Day 15 of the January Money Diet – Explore Your Local Library

  • Cai Krikorian

    I and my three year old love our library. This week was unseasonably warm and we walked along the river to the library. I was able to sit on a cozy chair and read while my little one played with the library’s toys. It makes for a relaxing weekly outing.

  • Deborah Gore

    I use the library that is located near my office. It is a great way to spend my lunch hour. I check out books, DVDs, and so much more.

  • Eliza, we have been using the library almost exclusively for all our needs. It is such a valuable resource that I also have added the library as my main charity as their funds have been drastically cut which limits what they can offer. If I donate even $5-$10 every month or so, it’s much less than I would have paid for the amount of materials I get to use for free.

  • Cynthia

    We raised our two (now adult) sons with our neighborhood library as an extension of our home. Kind of like an extra living room. It is a great social equalizer with it’s comfortable chairs, internet access, checker boards, good access to knowledgeable adults, book groups for all ages, poetry readings, and much, much more. One of my sons volunteered there in junior high. It gave him good work experience, and the staff was happy to have a youth there who had really grown up in the library. As a teacher of high poverty students, I have tried to get my families to utilize the library, just as my own family does. After all, we all pay for it with our taxes. It belongs to all of us. A unique feature of our library system is a Cultural Pass that anybody can check out. It gives you a discounted rate on selected activities such as museums. You check it out and return it just like a book. See if yours has one. Today I noticed a new feature called Library2Go. I think it connects me to libraries all over the state. Wow!

  • I love the library and actually have cards to three different library systems in our city! But today, all I did was return books I’d already re-checked twice. 🙂

  • Belinda

    Oh how I love books!!! I have many books that I enjoy owning, but really wonder if I will ever get to reading. An earlier “sell something” post got me to thinking about re-selling through Amazon and I am sorting through my collection with the knowledge that I can reserve through my local library. Thanks for the great ideas!!! I’ve been doing very well this month!

  • ElainieMay

    I have always said you can never have too many books….UNLESS YOU MOVE!!!

    With that in mind, we are clearing out our library, donating our books, and visiting the public library 99% for reading material.

    It is so liberating not to have so many books piled all around. I have to keep a few, though…always have to have some books at home.

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