Libraries will get you through

The public library of Rockland, Maine is one of many beautiful libraries that welcome you!

The public library of Rockland, Maine is one of many beautiful libraries that welcome you!

“Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.”Anne Herbert

Whenever I am feeling grouchy about paying taxes, I try to think of the wonderful public libraries that have given so much to our family over the years.  I can think of few places that have enriched our lives on so many levels, at no direct cost.  Even before I became a librarian I was bewildered that many people never walk into a library.  It’s unquestionably one of the best bargains around.

The public libraries of today have much, much more to offer than traditional books.  You can now look up all sorts of full text publications, 24/7 from the convenience of home, via research databases that formerly cost hundreds of dollars to access (and unlike a Google search, these databases are pre-screened or peer-reviewed for accuracy and quality).  You can download in seconds the newest audio or e-book bestsellers to play on your iPod or MP3 player.  You can even download free hit music, yours to keep permanently, via an online service called Freegal that is now available in many public libraries. You can check out DVDs of countless movies.  If the titles of your choice in books, music or movies are not available, you can get on a waitlist for them.  For all these services and more, we’ve never paid a cent outside of the taxes we pay whether or not we use the library.

Even if you’re not into books, music or movies, there are other great possibilities at public libraries.  Some are now lending all sorts of non-literary things: hand tools, cake pans, knitting needles, telescopes, fishing poles, home energy meters and other items that can be more practical to share than to own.  There are even libraries that host seed exchanges, where gardeners can “recycle” seeds from their gardens.  You can apply for passports, get documents notarized, hear free concerts and take free classes.  And some larger libraries now have machines that will download from your flash drive a manuscript you’ve written, and turn it into a book! (This particular service, of course, is not free.)

If you are a library fan, thanks for visiting my blog – you are among many like-minded people here!  If  you are not taking advantage of the immense wealth offered in your local library, I hope you will check it out (no pun  intended) and find out how much fun you can have for free.

See also:

The books themselves

This post was originally published seven years ago today, but it is more relevant in the age of COVID-19 than ever before. I am so grateful to be streaming movies, books, and music at no cost from the seven public libraries where I keep active borrower accounts, giving me endless cost-free entertainment while we are all shut in. And I have many print books that are on indefinite loan from two different public libraries, as they too have closed their buildings but continue their work online, rolling forward the due dates on whatever I was lucky enough to have checked out when they closed temporarily. Libraries will get you through all sorts of difficulties, including those nobody could ever have predicted. As the post-COVID recession lingers, remember Hebert’s words!

The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Chris

    Hi Julia,
    This is great! One of my favorite posts. Loved the dialogue between you and Eric. It’s scary, but I read and understood it as if normal. Uh, what does that mean? 😂
    Have a wonderful day!

    • Chris, I had to go back and read those comments because I had forgotten about them. If it wuz normel to yu, it meens yu no how to speek n miny difrent dialeks. Sufisticated peeple alwaze can.

      • Chris

        Tanks! I presheate it. 😜

  2. Lydia

    Dear Julia, I love libraries. We have four sites where I live. I’ve taken my granddaughter since she was a baby and she has enjoyed the story time at each one of them. They have them on different days and we visit each one of them. They have a special section for children where they can play and use computers with special programs for them. I’m so thankful for our libraries. Where I grew up we didn’t have a library, but my five older brothers and sisters instilled in me the love for reading. When I started kindergarten I already knew how to read so I was moved on to first grade. Now I enjoy reading on my iPad or iPhone where I devour a book every two or three days. My kids love to read also and my granddaughter is developing love for books. An interesting detail: I read to her in Spanish only, even if the book is in English. She is fluent in both languages and sometimes when the book has rhymes (like many children’s book do) I ask her if she wants me to read it in English and she says, “No, en español.” So, as you can imagine that takes a little bit of creativity. Have a wonderful day

    • Bravo to you for introducing your granddaughter to the library! Also I’m glad you visit several different libraries. Each has a personality and charm all its own, with different items in the collection and different events to offer. I am so amazed at the talents of bilingual children. When I was a Youth Services Librarian in Dixon, California, most of “my” kids who visited the library regularly had been bilingual since they first learned to talk. They spoke Spanish at home but were so fluent in English that one could not detect even the trace of an accent. They often translated for me. I’m happy you can read to her en español. If I could magically have any skill instantly, I think I would choose the ability to talk, read and write in several different languages. I wish you many happy hours at your local libraries!

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