I have a terrible, dirty secret. One that will make some librarians gasp in despair, and others maybe will feel relieved that they’re not alone.
You see, I’m not actually a member, or user of public libraries.
There, I said it!
In fact, the only time I’ve been a member of a public library was at Uni, when I joined the local public library…and never used it. As a child, my Mum was a librarian in the local branch, and she just borrowed out books for me on her ticket, so we never got around to getting me a readers ticket. In secondary school, I used the school library, and sometimes the local library, with Mum still borrowing books on my behalf.
Now, as an adult, what I do is go to the local charity shops, buy a pile of whatever books from there that take my fancy at £1 each, read them, then give them back for resale. This means I give to charity twice over, once with the sale to me, and again with the donation back to them to resell. Also, I’ll have an occasional shop at Amazon, buying enough of the £3 paperbacks to get free shipping, reading them, then again, giving them to the charity shops. I very rarely keep any of the books I buy, due to both space issues, and a knowledge that it’ll be many years before I’ve forgotten enough of the contents to be able to read them again without thinking “I know what happens next”.
I don’t have any dependants, my money is entirely my own to spend as I see fit, so I don’t feel that spending £15 to £20 a month or so on books is extortionate, although I realise there could be many people who would think spending that much on books regularly is insane.
As someone who isn’t addicted to a particular author, reads fast but hates deadlines (ie return dates), tends to choose books to pick up based initially on their spine art, and is constantly fighting a book hoarding instinct, is there really any reason for me to use public libraries?
What could persuade me to switch from my buying and sending to charity habit, to joining and using a public library? Purely in relation to books – I’m aware public libraries have a lot more than just books in them, but I have my own computer and internet access, and don’t want to join any sort of groups, so it would have to be the books that would tempt me in.
Am I a bad librarian for not being a member or user of my local library?