So, a fellow writer and blogger, Amy Sundberg, has started a new series she’s calling the Backbone Project. The idea is to assert opinions and viewpoints without apology, to be unafraid of stating things others might disagree with, and generally to say “no” to writing bland blog posts. Amy has also enlisted all of us to help her out. Because I love Amy’s blog and think I could probably stand to be a bit less wishy-washy myself, I’ve decided to chime in with a back-bony post of my own. So, after reading, feel free to share your outraged disagreement in the comments!
My opinion for the day is as follows: I think library cards are for the birds.
I’m a prime candidate for a library card. I read a lot (I mean REALLY a lot – usually upwards of 6-9 books a month). I’m not rolling in cash, so forking over for every book I read is far from financially prudent. I live in New York City, which (unlike many other places) still has a moderately functioning library system. Also, our apartment is very small and shelf space is not to be squandered. Everyone is always telling me “ooh, you really should get a library card. It’s such a good thing. You’re such a fool to pay for books” blah, blah, blah.
I ain’t gettin’ one and nothing you can say will change my mind.
1. I’m the most impatient person alive.
I often find it hard to wait for a book to arrive from Amazon (and we use Amazon Prime, so the wait is generally less than 2 days). I want my booky-books, and I want them NOW. The library never seems to have the books I want, or if they do there’s a wait of like 10 million years to get them. Thanks, but no thanks.
2. The hoops the library requires me to jump through drive me nuts (I mean actually, hair-pullingly nuts).
An example: I did, in fact, sign up for a library card when we first moved to Brooklyn. I eagerly went home and fired up the computer to search for all the books I wanted to read. The online system was impenetrable, a veritable maze of branches and rules and forms. I was slavering with irritation by the time I finally finished navigating the darn thing. I found like two of the 10 books I was searching for and gave up in frustration (see #1). About a year later, I went into my local branch to check out some books for research and was told that because of the inactivity on my account I had re-apply for a card. Not renew. Reapply. Really? Yes, really. I had to start all over, producing a piece of mail proving my local address and everything. Forget you, library.
3. I love being the first person to crack open a new book.
I love having rows and rows of all the books I read lined up on my shelf like trophies. I love being able to pass books I enjoyed on to my friends and family. You can’t do any of that with library books, which often (let’s be honest) smell like cat pee.
4. As a writer, I think it’s a reasonable thing to support authors.
I know how hard it is for authors to make a living and I see no reason not to pay for the works they labor so hard to produce. If I didn’t dislike the library for reasons 1-3, I would espouse the view that readers should pay only for the books of authors they really love, or for the books they can afford, and get the rest from the library. But I do dislike the library for reasons 1-3.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I think libraries are wonderful things. Just because I don’t want to use them doesn’t mean millions of other people shouldn’t. Just because I can afford (barely and arguably) to buy books doesn’t mean other people can’t. I am NOT OPPOSED TO LIBRARIES. I just don’t want to jump through so many stupid hoops, navigate confusing and poorly laid out online systems, and then wait and wait and wait just to read a book. Hence, my opposition to the acquisition of a library card.
So, library-lovers, let me have it!
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