There was an article in the paper this Sunday about a Denver Post librarian who gave up buying books for a year. I read it, and promptly dismissed it, as I figured the only reason he didn’t use the public library for everything was because he didn’t work in one. Maybe I’m just cheap, or unsentimental, but I’ve always considered books and movies to be disposable entertainment. I haven’t bought a book for myself since I started working in a public library, and I haven’t rented a movie since my library loosened their A-V collection development policy in 1999 or so. True, I’ve had to learn to be patient, but I always have so much on the hold shelf, that I don’t miss devouring the latest bestseller the day it’s published – instead I enjoy being pleasantly surprised by what’s waiting for me.
However, my colleague Chris Cook mentioned how interesting she’d found the piece and I remembered that libraries employ loads of people who love books and buy them all the time, despite having free access to them. But, as we’ve heard about in numerous articles recently, book lovers are becoming more frugal and are choosing economical behavior over instant gratification. And of course using the library is always the greenest choice. Now that I’m no longer at a library five days a week, I can see why people find it hard to use. Timing your holds and regulating the quantity you get can be tricky. Fortunately the library I use has a seven day hold period, so generally, I only have to visit once a week, and it lets you suspend your own holds so I’m not overwhelmed with materials. But so many libraries have a much shorter hold period. I realize that the longer the hold period, the more titles you’ll have to buy and the longer others will have to wait, but it would make it more convenient for residents to use our services. What do you think?