How can that be? Many personal finance bloggers, including myself, LOVE the library. Getting a library card and using it to borrow, rather than buy books is a great way to save money. Books aren’t cheap. In my honest opinion, they’re pretty darn expensive. Especially the hardcover books. It boggles my mind that people will buy books just have on display on the coffee table. I never understood the coffee table book concept.
Books are meant to be read! And smelled. Oh, how I LOVE the smell of books.
Unless it’s a reference book or a cookbook, I will only read it once. Then it makes it way over to a shelf in the office, only to display its title on the spine and almost never to be taken out again. Unless we decided to move.
The library gives you access to numerous books, magazines, DVDs and cds for free. They’re free as long as you return them on time. If you don’t, you get fined. Unless your library is intuitive enough to send reminder emails or provide a reminder app for your phone (mine used to, but for some reason doesn’t do it anymore), it’s quite easy to forget about when your library books are due.
Despite being fairly organized, I am quite careless when it comes to keeping track of when my library books are due. I have an online account with my local library, but unlike my bank account, I do not check it every single day. Thus, I forget when my books are due and by the time I remember, I have already accumulated a significant amount in fines. My largest fee was probably somewhere over five bucks.
Generally speaking, five bucks is not a lot. However, it’s a lot for overdue library books and could have easily been avoided if I was more diligent with due dates. Going forward I should treat it as a potential bill and hence I should return it on or before its due date to avoid actually paying the bill.
If your desired book is not available you can place a hold on it. If the book is very popular, most likely the library will have several copies, but don’t be surprised if all the copies are in use and there are fifty hold requests prior to yours. You can be waiting a very, very, long time for that book.
Patience really is a virtue when it comes to library book holds. This is why I request a whole bunch of books at once, with the hopes that at least one will become available soon enough.
Since libraries have a limited number of copies of items you can borrow, you are allotted only a certain amount of time to read, watch or listen to that item. With fast lane books, the ones that are REALLY HIGH in demand, you are only allotted a week to read. Higher fines. NO renewals. Talk about strict rules.
I consider myself to be a pretty fast reader and have been able to go through a book within a week or less. However, sometimes work gets busy. Heck, life gets busy. Sometimes one week is just not enough time to read a book! I almost feel pressured to read the book at an even faster rate than I am reading it, just to avoid that higher fine. Then I end up feeling I never really read the book properly and have to wait until it becomes available again.
Again, my patience is tested.
I propose to extend the borrowing time of the high demand books to 10 days instead. Even one more day would make a difference.
Has the library cost you money at all or has it saved you money for the most part?
About the Author:
Karen lives in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). By day, she’s a public servant and by night, she is motivating people in group exercise classes. Karen blogs about personal finance, travel, life and everything in between at MakintheBacon. You can follow her on Twitter @MakintheBacon1. When she’s not blogging, she’s most likely baking, biking, planning her next trip, reading, or obsessing over her finances.