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FREE BOOKS!

>> Tuesday, May 25, 2010

 Guess what? You can get pretty much any book you want FOR FREE, just around the corner from where you live! It's true! You just walk right in, tell 'em what book you want and they hand it over to you. Now, you don't get to keep it forever but you do get to keep it for as long as it takes you to finish it. This free book fantasyland is called "The Library" and though it may seem like I'm being a bit sarcastic here, really, I'm not.
See, I used to spend a lot of my hard(ish) earned money on books. Books that I usually only read once and then added to the ever-growing collection in my towering, wall-to-wall book shelves. My new year's resolution this year was to STOP BUYING BOOKS. It sounds so easy but I was scared. I (shamefully) hadn't used the public library since I was about 13. Sure, I used the school library for projects and reports but for some reason I plumb forgot that there was a public library in every town I have ever lived in that was chock full of the books I was paying $14.95 a piece for! It seems totally crazy when you think about it. Last year I probably spent well over a couple hundred dollars on books. I am an avid reader, I always have a book I'm reading and I sometimes read up to a book a week. Used book stores helped defray some of the cost of all these books but really, I was buying the cow when I could have gotten the milk for free. I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT!
I got a Los Angeles library card a few years ago on a tour of the Central Library in Downtown Los Angeles. They explained on the tour how the LA Library system is streamlined and connected to make it easy to get a book from any LA library delivered to the one nearest you so you can pick it up at your convenience. I got my card on the spot then promptly did nothing with it. That is, until this year when I mustered up the courage to go online and test out this supposedly easy system. Turns out, it was just as easy as they said it would be. I found the book I wanted, put a hold on it and checked back in a day to see if it was ready for pick up. All this from the comfort of my couch! When the book was ready at my library of choice, I swung by and walked up to the front desk where they scanned my library card (which conveniently attaches to my keychain!!!) and handed over my book with a receipt that provided me with the due date. It was that simple.
The pictures in this post are all from my chosen library, the Westwood branch.
I love this place. It is everything you expect a library to be and more. It's incredibly quiet (of course) but also just tranquil and peaceful. It has huge windows that reveal lush green tree tops and bright blue sky, it almost feels like reading in a tree house when you sit near these windows.
There is a great kids area with stunning butterfly wing stained glass windows. The building is beautifully made with interesting materials and sculptures. It has an airy, open feel but also has small rooms downstairs from the main library area for meetings and book groups.
The staff are very helpful and there is free(!!!), underground parking. The switch from buying retail-priced books to checking out exactly the books I want has been almost seamless. Sometimes a book I want isn't available or a transfer from another library to mine takes more than a few days but when you are paying 0 dollars and 0 cents, these minor inconveniences are well worth it. So far I have checked out 7 books from the library, read them all and haven't paid a penny.
If you, like me, forgot about this amazing resource, maybe now is the time to reconsider. Just think of all the money you could save! Check it out: www.lapl.org (get it? check it out?. Punny, I know.)
PS. If you're really lucky, someone will leave little surprises in the books that you get to discover! I've found photos, notes, grocery lists and boarding passes!

3 comments:

Nichole May 26, 2010 at 11:01:00 AM PDT  

What a great post! I also love their wonderful collection of eAudio and eBooks. Reading and listening material anytime, anywhere.

Bernadette May 26, 2010 at 12:35:00 PM PDT  

Love your post! There was a link to it from the LA library's page on facebook, and it's receiving lots of great comments!

Amie May 26, 2010 at 4:45:00 PM PDT  

So funny that you wrote about this - I'm in a book club and they just released the next 4 books. Before clicking 'purchase' on Amazon I got an inkling, and looked up if they had any of the books at the W. Hollywood Library. They had 1 and 2 could be put on hold! The fourth one just came out in February, so I wasn't surprised that they didn't have it. Now I have to go find my old library card in my junk drawer to get them. I will definitely be a library person more from now on...spending $15+ on a book read once is just silly.

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