When I was six years old, my dad took me to the public library to get my first library card. How official I felt! How grown up! My own card, with my own name on it. For years after that, it was a favorite Saturday afternoon ritual - going to the library with my father and brother. Sometimes the library would show kids' movies (my favorite: Pippi Longstocking). Other times there were readings or other special events. But mostly for me, the library was about the miles and miles of books. I loved those stacks. (The only drawback was that patrons were not allowed to check out more than 10 books at a time - I hated that rule!). There was nothing like leaving the library with a pile of books.
It surprises me, then, that it took so long for me to become a patron of the Ann Arbor District Library. I think part of it is that by the time we moved here, I had gotten in the habit of buying most of the books I wanted instead of borrowing (hello and thank you, Amazon. Not to mention: hello and thank you, full-time job and disposable income). In the years before we moved here, I lived in a very small town with a very small library, and while I certainly patronized it, I couldn't find most of what I wanted. Also, I have a small problem with keeping books past their due dates and owing exorbitant fines, so I think that after a few too many big fines, I cut back on checking things out and just used that money to buy books instead.
I did occasionally visit the library here in my first years, but it was sporadic. And then about three years ago, I suddenly got hooked. Perhaps it had something to do with having kids and wanting to introduce them to the wonders of the library early, like my dad did for me. Or maybe it was because the AADL unveiled an amazing and extensive website. Or maybe it was because I finally realized that, with kids, a house, and a yarn habit to support, (not to mention an expensive coffee addiction to keep up with), I couldn't keep funneling so much of my money to Barnes&Noble, Borders, and Amazon. Probably it was a convergence of all of these things. Whatever the reason, I am now completely hooked on our public library. Love it. And I'm here to tell you, the public library can be a craftster's best friend.
Example #1: When I first started getting interested in sewing and quilting (ah, quilting, the hobby I'm obsessed with and have yet never tried), I was hesitant to buy any books related to those crafts (especially since I had so many knitting books on my list). But my library has a great collection of these books. I can search their catalog online from home and put a hold on it online, and it will be waiting for me to pick it up at the desk at any branch I choose (there are three within 5 minutes of my house, lucky me). By using my online account, I was able to put a hold on Denise Schmidt's quilting book before the library even owned a copy - then when they got it, I was able to just swing by and pick it up!
Example #2: Some books (like Denise Schmidt's book) I decide right away I want to own myself, so I will go ahead and buy them myself when I have the funds. But other books I'm not yet ready to purchase, and if no one else is waiting for them, I can keep them indefinitely - as long as I use my online account to renew them every three weeks. Good-bye, overdue fines! (okay, let's be honest, I still find it possible to rack up fines) [the book I've checked out the longest: Your First Quilting Book - which I have now renewed 27 times in a row] (if anyone else ever wants it, they just put a hold on it and then I can't renew it, so I don't feel bad about having it out for well over a year)
Example #3: Occasionally there will be a crafting book I want that is out-of-print. Last spring there was one I really wanted: One Piece Knits That Fit. At the time, the price was unreasonable for me (it had shot way up due to demand and too few copies). My library's online catalog didn't have the book. BUT I was able to search the Inter-Library Loan database and locate four other copies in the state. Within a week, one was ready for me to pickup at my local library. Unfortunately, I couldn't renew it beyond the three weeks I had it checked out. I may or may not have photocopied the entire book.
Right now, as you know, I am working on the Lace Leaf Pullover, which I just happened to spot and love in the Ravelry database. I originally had other plans for the chocolate brown yarn and so did not already own the book that has this pattern. So I checked the book out. You know, there is not one other thing in that book that I will ever want to knit, and I'm sure I will only knit this pullover this one time. Public library to the rescue.
I know that crafting books are the only thing I'm raving about here, but that's just because I know y'all will understand. But I do check out other things, and thankfully, there are no limits here on how much I can have out at once (current total: 32 books; my record: 49). Since we do not have TV, we only watch DVDs, and the AADL is a great source for those, especially for our boys.
There are so many reasons I love the public library, and now my boys do too. The children's sections at two of the closest branches are particularly good, with the main branch housing a large aquarium. Tiny Dancer is crazy about fish.
But of course the best part is still the books....
Love you, local library! Love you, friendly librarians! Love you, books!
What about the rest of you? Do you use and love your local library? What do you love about it?