One of the things I’ve discovered in the past 5 or so years is that libraries are adapting and offering more downloadable formats for books, magazines and movies. There are library apps you can use on a mobile phone or tablet so that you can browse or search and then check out materials without ever setting foot in the library itself – not that the library is a bad place to be. I’m just saying it’s a convenient and wonderful thing to be able to check out an ebook or audiobook without having to actually go to the library to do that.
What frustrates me a little is that there are limited options for libraries we can use. I feel like the existing model that’s tied to the neighborhoods where we live is really outdated, and there should be more sharing of library resources between libraries, if not nationally, at least at the state level. I’m pretty lucky here in Seattle to have access to 3 major public library systems. That isn’t true in or near all big cities. In small towns, you’re really limited to only one – the county system. I think that for people who have one or no options, that really sucks. Everyone should have access to library materials no matter where they live.
Here in Seattle, we have the Seattle Public Library the Tacoma Public Library and the King County Library System. This isn’t much different than back home in Minnesota, although I am a little surprised that I can get a card at the Seattle or the Tacoma libraries. Tacoma more so because it’s in a different county; however, I can get a card because I have a card for the King County Library System. Back home, I wouldn’t have been able to get a card at the St. Paul Public Library because Stillwater was too far out of the city limits and also in another county. I guess I wasn’t paying much attention back in Houston so I don’t know how far I could go before I ran out of library options.
On a side note, the Tacoma Public Library allows me, as a non-resident of Tacoma, to get an e-card only that I can use to check out ebooks, and they don’t require me to show up at one of their branches with an ID to get a card beforehand. Seattle’s a different story. Guess it’s “lucky” that I get my chemo downtown and can stop in after a chemo appointment to pick up my card so I can start checking out ebooks from them.
Back to my original thought – what if you’re on vacation in a different part of the state and you just want to sit down with a good book at the beach and you didn’t think to get one before you left, or the one you brought sucks? Happily, with downloadable formats, you don’t have to be at home to access materials from your local library. But what if your local library doesn’t have what you’re looking for and the one at the beach does? I know, not likely, but then what? Then you’re either buying it yourself maybe from a local bookstore or having it overnight shipped from Amazon, or you’re requesting that your local library make that purchase and hoping that they do and then waiting for that to happen (not likely before you’re leaving for a week at the beach), or you’re basically screwed. How’s that fair or right?
If you’re interested in changing the rules on this, please write to your State Senator and State Representative for your district. Here in WA, I’m in District 11. If you don’t know who your state reps are, Google something like “state of xyz legislative districts.” The search results should give you links to your state legislative district maps, and from there, inputting your address will point you to the correct district and your elected reps.
If you love your library as is, drop them a line and let them know. There’s usually a place on the website to contact the library and let them know how they’re doing. They appreciate hearing that you’re happy with their service. Or, if you’re feeling nostalgic, take a thank you card to your local branch with a bag of chocolate candy.