Sunday, April 19, 2009

Valuable Investments: Library Card

Photo via CAPS Library

I am kicking off day one of Valuable Investments week at Apartment 303 with a simple and free service we should all be utilizing: our local public libraries.  If you cannot remember the last time you saw the inside of your own town library, now is time to dust off that long-forgotten membership card.  For those whose wallets are without this priceless piece of plastic, there is no time like the present to head over to your closest bibliophile haunt and sign up.  Public libraries are a tremendous source of value for our selves, our communities, and our planet; a literal trifecta of value!

Value for Our Selves

Public libraries are a wonderful way to enrich our lives and minds through reading; one of the most time-tested forms of entertainment and knowledge sharing.  I do not need to explain the many reasons why it is important to spend less time in front of the television and more time engaged in a book that challenges our assumptions and helps us to see the world in a new light.  If it has been a while since your last visit, you may have forgotten the many services Librarians provide as well (after all, they do have a Masters in Library Science). These services include research help, book recommendations, locating old newspaper and journal articles, and ordering in books from affiliate libraries for your convenience.   In an era where each of us considers our Wikipedia and Google search skills to be sufficient, it is remarkable how efficient and effective the aid of a Librarian is. 

Your library card is your ticket to unlimited free entertainment and knowledge, and not just through books.  Libraries also stock DVD collections, journal and magazine subscriptions, books on CD, music scores, online news subscriptions, and free Internet access.  That’s right, all of this for free*!  *tax dollars notwithstanding 

Value for Our Community

Public Libraries serve a vital role in any community and are a great place to find out about upcoming events, local history, and all different types of community organizations.  Most libraries offer various book clubs, free or low cost lectures and classes, and children’s programs to boot.  So if you are looking for a way to get more involved in your community, or if you are new to an area and don’t quite know how to find your niche, start with your local library.

Value for Our Environment

Since the publishing industry is such a major polluter, it seems counterintuitive that hitting up your local library is good for the environment.  However, borrowing a book will always be greener than buying your own personal hardback copy…which is likely to be quickly tossed on your bookshelf where it will promptly begin gathering dust for next 25 years.  The concept of sharing resources in the same manner as libraries can also be applied to many other goods and services in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way (think the bicycle sharing program in many European cities, or the popularity of the Freecycle Network). Many libraries also allow you to access e-versions of books they carry – a convenient and entirely paper-free way to read. 

Given all of the value public libraries provide, it is amazing to think that so few people take advantage of their services.  So this week, pay your closest library a visit.  The investment of your time will reap major dividends, all around.  

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