How the Library Saved Me Thousands of Bucks!

My family has always been big readers. I grew up watching my parents and siblings read and being the youngest, I wanted to be like them. I was exposed to the public library at a young age and I loved going because it was so cool.  You could take out all kinds of books, for free, as long as you returned them in three weeks.   Even 40 years later I still say to myself  how freakin’ awesome is that? Free books. Free freakin’ books.

I read a lot. It is my main form of entertainment.   I spent a big part of my life living on low wage jobs so reading was a very inexpensive way to pass the time.   I used to watch movies and TV but their appeal has faded over the last few years for me mainly because I can relate to the stories and characters in books better than on TV. Television and movies are not bad things, they just don’t hold my interest.

Since reading is my primary form of entertainment, I read more than the average person.  Back in June 2005 I read in a book where the guy wrote a review of every book he’d ever read. I thought that was a great idea.  I bought a dollar store notebook and over five years, and seven notebooks later, I have written over 500 book reviews.

Note: The reviews are hand written because when I started the project I was not always in front of a computer. Also,  my reviews can ramble a bit and often there is little attention paid to grammar and neat handwriting. The reviews are not published on the internet  because,  sadly, some people online are jerks. If someone is truly interested they can email me or come over and sit in my super awesome reading chair and read the review.
To celebrate the 500th Review, I did post it on this blog under the appropriately named The 500th Review!

If you are reading dozens of books a year, this can be very expensive.  Instead of buying the majority of my books, I get them from my public library.  There are two reasons for this:


a) I am very cheap.
b) I live in a 500 square foot apartment. I have a very limited amount of space.

So how did the library save me so much money? Here is the breakdown:

Books read (June 2005- Dec 2011) 517
Books given as gifts 6
New books purchased 7
Used books purchased 24
Books received from the local public library 480

Since I don’t buy many new books, I really have no idea how much they cost. After minutes of exhaustive research at various Canadian online book stores, I found the prices ranged from $10 to $18 for a recent paperback.  I read a number of hardcover books during this 5.5 year period and they are considerably more expensive. And what about electronic books? Some people buy books that way these days. Okay this is really getting complicated. Let’s just the average cost of a paper book is $15.

480 books x $15 = $7200

But wait what about taxes? I pay taxes that fund the library but since I rent an apartment my taxes are included in my rent. I have no idea how much of my tax money goes directly to the library system but lets say $50 a year. I chose $50 a year because that is what the city charges to give you a card if you live outside the city.

5 years x $50 = $250.00.

$7200 – $250 = 6,950.00

That’s a lot of money!!! It’s also ironic that my (ever growing) emergency fund is just a little over $7,000. Thanks Public Library.

The most common feedback I get about getting books from the library is that it takes so long to get the latest best sellers. This  can be true, however there are zillions of other books one can read while you wait for the best sellers to come in. Most public libraries have their catalog online and these catalogues have reader reviews, book club lists and other resources to help you find the perfect book  Finally,  one can go to any of the online booksellers and search their site. I am quite fond of the “if you liked this, you might like this” function featured on many online book retailers.

Tip! If you library does not have a book. ask about an interlibrary loan (ILL).
(From Wikipedia)
An interlibrary loan  is a service whereby a user of one library can borrow books or receive photocopies of documents that are owned by another library.

The other response I get from the library naysayers is that it’s too hard to get to the library. Well thanks to digital technology, you can request to have your book delivered to your local branch or even downloaded to your computer or an e-reader.

Note: I am not an e-reader kind of gal. My kind hearted gadget loving brother and sister in law gave me one last year but unfortunately they gave me a broken e-reader and after 12 hours of trying to get it to work I was ready to set it on fire. Maybe one day when there are more electronic titles at the library,  I will buy one, but for now I will stick to old fashion paper books.

Okay, I know that most people do not read 100+ books a year so my savings are quite unusual but even if one buys  two books a month, that’s a savings of at least  $360 a year. If you are in debt or saving for something important or just scrapping by, $360 is a lot of money.  Take advantage of this great resource provided to you by your town or city.

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