LOVE IT: Public Libraries

posted on: August 28, 2007

When was the last time you actually stepped foot into a public library? Do you even know where your public library is?

Public Libraries are THE BEST free resource a community has (free, as in: included in your taxes.) You can walk into your public library and surf the net for FREE, you can check out the latest movies on DVD for FREE, you take home CDs to listen and load to your iPod for FREE, you can borrow audiobooks to take on roadtrips for FREE, you can sign up for classes and lectures in your community for FREE, your can sit and read the latest magazines or newspapers from around the world for FREE, you can hang out and get work or studying done without feeling like you need to buy something just to be there... and did you notice I haven't even mentioned books?!!

Here are just a few of the DVDs and CDs that I can check out at my local library...
Marie Antoinette

Garden State Soundtrack

On top of saving you money, libraries are also socially responsible and environmentally friendly. They are the ultimate example of an institution built upon the idea of reusing and recycling with hundreds of resources being borrowed and returned every day. Anything you want to learn about is easy to access with a little help from a librarian, and if there's a better resource on the net, they'll give you that too!! Today's librarians aren't just knowledgable about books, they're very internet savvy and they have the ability to tap into databases and bodies of knowledge that you may have never even known about. Librarians are like having your own personal search engine with the ability to weed out things that aren't relevant to your search before you ever have to see them.

As a bride planning a wedding, the public library is the perfect place to find a CD of wedding music which you can take home and listen to samples of complete ceremony pieces without buying an entire CD you'll probably never listen to again. It's also a great place to find wedding planning books, etiquette books, or books with gorgeous decorating ideas that normally would be expensive to purchase and take home from the bookstore. Travel books can help you find the perfect spot for a honeymoon and even your best man can find a book on giving the perfect toast. While there are a lot of resources on the web, sometimes they just aren't complete enough or take too much time to surf through before you find what you're looking for.

In all likelihood, you're probably a lot like me with tons of stuff to do and very little time to do it all, so reading is a pretty low priority on your to-do list even if you feel it's important. However, you might also be like me and find yourself in the car for hours at a time, bored with listening to the same over-played, over-produced, shoved-down-our-throught-because-someone-paid-a-lot-of-money-for-it-to-be-on-the-air songs over and over again. My solution to both of the above dilemas is audio books. It's important for me to make the most of my time, so audiobooks help me feel more productive while I'm in the car, allowing me to learn something new or catch up on the latest bestseller that everyone is crazy about (before it gets bastardized into a movie version.) Lately I've listened to some pretty amazing books, and I love that I don't have to pay to download them from iTunes, take up more storage on my hard drive, or find a place to put them on my overly crowded bookshelves when I'm done! If, after listening to a book, I know that I absolutely must have it so that I can reference it for ideas, then I can decide if its worth buying and keeping in my library.

See why I super-heart libraries? Another great thing is that if the library doesn't have what you want, they may even try to get it for you... for freeee. Have you heard of The Secret? Well, I pretty much knew what the whole thing was about so I really didn't want to pay for a copy of the DVD that I'd probably only watch once, or for a book that I'd only read once, so I asked my library if they had it. They didn't, but the librarian said, "do you think we should get it?" I said, "sure- a lot of people have been talking about it," and within a week, the DVD was in the library and even being held for me behind the counter! Isn't that special!? Talk about great customer service! Oh yeah, and did you know that most libraries let you renew your materials online or over the phone- so you don't even have to revisit the library if you know you're going to be late on returning an item?! Plus, most libraries give you plenty of time to check items out, and my local library has never even charged me a fee for the times when I forgot to renew materials online or ended up returning them late. They're just cool like that.

Since I've been doing a lot of driving for weddings this summer, I've had a chance to listen to some really great books which I never would have had the chance to read. So, if you're looking for something really interesting for your next road trip or commute, I recommend any of the following titles!! Some are fascinating pieces of research that will change the way you think about ordinary things, some are inspiring, and some are just downright classics that everyone should read once in their lifetime. Call your local library to see if they're on the shelves now, check it out for free, and pop it in your CD player or load it up to your ipod to listen to while you're traveling or even working at your computer!

If you made it this far- I would love to send you my signature "Live. Love. Green." Canvas Tote Bag for your next trip to the library!! All you have to do is tell me the title and author of your all-time favorite book in the comments below. Maybe it was a childhood book, maybe it was something you read last week! Next Tuesday, one lucky winner will be chosen!

Updated: 9/4/07
The number 33 was chosen at random which was determined to find out who our tote bag winner was and DAMON left the 33rd comment!! Damon- please email me so that I can send you your prize!! I've also gathered a list of your favorite books and I will make it a personal goal to read them all in my lifetime (unfortunately I could only include 38 titles, so some are missing but most are there)!!! CLICK HERE for my blogreaders' Favorite Books!! I also received an email from Katie about joining a social reader's website where you can share your favorite books and see what your friends are reading!! If you're on this site, please send me an email with a link to your favorites!! Thank you everyone who participated!!!

53 comments, to add [click here]:

  1. Pilgrims Progress - John Bunyan

  2. It's maybe a little cliche, but Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-J.K. Rowlings
    The series changed my reading-life...or gave me one!

  3. The Secret Lives of Bees great book.

    Also our library after you return the book destroys the record that you ever checked it out. With big bro there I thought that was awesome to do. ...yes from a very liberal town ;)

  4. My ALL TIME favorite book is....Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak!! It's scary and wonderful all at the same time!

  5. I actually just read what I consider my all-time favorite book a couple years ago. It's called Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman. It's a fascinating reflection and exploration of the nature of time progression.

  6. A Room of One's Own - Virginia Woolf

  7. My favorite book since I have had children is "I Love You Stinky Face" by Lisa McCourt!

  8. Anonymous8:39 PM

    My favorite book of all time would have to be...Peter Pan (any version). You just have to love the "fairytaleness" of the whole idea. A never land, where children don't have to grow up. AND, get to fly! It is beyond genius, in my opinion.

    Nicole Nail

  9. Sati, by Christopher Pike. I've read it about fourteen times. I snatch up all the extra copies of it that I can when I see it anywhere, which I know isn't the most environmentally-friendly thing in the world, but it's out of print and really hard to find, and I give it away to people that I love so that they can understand me better. It's this book about a woman who says she's God, and the journey that the people around her go through in examining their faith and (dis)belief in/about God. It's a little "woo-woo", but it was such a formative book for me when I read it. A lot of my ideas about God, spirituality, life and death come from the foundation that was laid for me by reading this book when I was 13.

    Anyway. And yeah, Christopher Pike is the author best known for writing teen horror novels. Sati was a bit of a departure for him. ;)

    Oh, and the book has been compared to Illusions by Richard Bach by some people I've given the book to. So, if that helps put it in context at all...


  10. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. LOVE this book. I think in part because I read it for the first time during junior year of high school English class and I had the most inspiring teacher ever. But also because this book just rocks my world :-)

  11. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (translated by Ralph Manheim)... I still have dreams about this book years and years after I've read it. love it.

  12. Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin. I'd read it at least 10 times and bought just about as many copies--I kept giving them away to people. It's a little dark, but my dream is to get the movie rights and write a screenplay.

  13. Janelle9:44 PM

    Hands down favorite - The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. It's what unconditional, selfless love is all about.

  14. The entire Redwall series by Brian Jaques... a most masterful storyteller. We're kind of in the same profession!

  15. Anonymous9:47 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  16. Anonymous9:49 PM

    My Sister's Keeper- Jodi Piccult
    As a nurse, I love this. It brings ethical dilemmas to a human intimate level.

  17. I grew up in the library and still LOVE to check books out. I have a stack of books on my hope chest that are almost two months overdue. I'm afraid to take them back because I know they'll want to choke me. Maybe I'll do that today anyway. I should. Thanks for the motivation.

    My favorite book is The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. If I could marry her, I would.

  18. Anonymous10:18 PM

    I love the entire series of the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I first read it in middle school and again when I was pregnant in the unabridged book.

  19. Thank you for this great post - I sometimes forget about public libraries and need a little reminder...just moved to a new town so I'll check it out. I also LOVE totebags and love the design of yours - where did you order it from? Whenever I go to the grocery store I go with at least five bags - so much better than paper or plastic :) Take care!

  20. Awesome Anne! I indeed get to the library often but your idea about loading the books on CD into the ipod is beautiful!

    I have to say my all time fave must be The Secret Garden (or maybe Jenny and the Cat Club- it's stuck with me all these years!! :0) )

    But a newer fave (I think I've read it four times now) is The Time Travelers Wife. Each time I read it I just can't put it down. love books!!! :0P

  21. As the director of a public library, this post makes my heart SING. Thank you. :-)

    (And I can't drive anywhere without audiobooks either!)

    I don't have one favorite...I can't. Books are like my kids sometimes!

    However *deep sigh*, I would have to say that Pride and Prejudice, My Sister's Keeper, The Time Traveler's Wife, The Probable Future and the Harry Potter series would be right up there! :-)

  22. jamie8:42 AM

    my goodness, with all these great comments and books... i almost feel unworthy to add my voice...
    one of my favourite books (and movies, actually) is A Room With A View by E.M.Forester. Merchant/Ivory did the movie, and they did an excellent job - it's like reading the book in visual form.
    Must add that I love Harry Potter too... :-)
    And we totally do the audio books things on trips as well.
    Oh, and I really love Neil Gaiman, but can't choose one of his books. His kids' works are pretty cool. His brain is warped or something, and that just makes his books that much cooler :-) (and I like his books better than his graphic novels). That's it!

  23. Anne, what a wonderful post! In my former life before becoming a photographer I was a High School Librarian! I still volunteer at the local public library a few hours a week:) I have too many favorite books, so I'll just put my last favorite book I read, Harry Potter and the Deathly Gallows.

  24. I can never come up with just one favorite book but I couldn't put down the most recent book in my book club, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. The characters are so interesting and I felt like I learned a lot. I highly recommend anything by Hosseini.

  25. THANK YOU! I am an aspiring librarian, and will finish my degree this March. I hope to work in a public library, and found this entry by accident. THANK YOU FOR PROMOTING LIBRARIES!

    By the way, my current favorite author is P.D. James. Her mysteries spend much more time on character development than most fiction.

  26. I've been reading the Love Comes Softly series again by Jeanette Oake over the last month and am loving it all over again.

  27. I have way too many, but one I've always loved (partially because of the art) - If Kisses Were Colors by Janet Lawler

  28. An Invitation to the Butterfly Ball-Jane Yolen published in 1979.
    My all time favorite book as a child (I read it at show and tell) It's a counting rhyme with the most gorgeous, ethereal, illustrations done by Jane Breskin Zalben. I still have a copy.

  29. Where the Wild Thigns Are- Maurice Sendak !!!

  30. All I can say is Here Here! Great post! It's hard to pick just one book because I love books (and love to see contests that incorporate them...I find lots of cool books that way).

    But when asked this question, the first book that comes to mind is 'Truck Stop Rainbows' by Iva Pekarkova. Amazing novel about maintaining individuality...and one I read probably once a year.

  31. The book that I have enjoyed the most in the past few years is Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey. I have trouble picking a favorite book since there are so many I love but that was the one that captured me the most recently.

    Plus it's funny you should post about the library because I am planning a trip for this weekend!

  32. Jamie Delaine6:27 PM

    It's gotta be:

    Pride & Prejudice - Jane Austen

    I've highlighted so many phrases and pages in that book, it isn't funny.

    Oh, close 2nd:

    The Screwtape Letters - C.S. Lewis

    That doesn't exclude me from the contest, now that I've said TWO does it? :)

  33. melinda6:42 PM

    anne, what a GREAT post! i am so much of a bookworm that it's hard for me to pick just one... but i'm going to go ahead and say:

    The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

    i know it's a kids book, but i could read it over and over again! it's got so many hidden meanings that older minds catch ;)

  34. This comment has been removed by the author.

  35. George Orwell's 1984. Poignant then and probably forever.

    Anne, I think I should win the bag because not only do I support my public library with my excessive late fees -- I call checking out material "renting" -- I also drive a Prius and have been working with the VP of Operations at my job on ways to green the company. My wife Agnes also drives a Prius...

  36. Ooooh, good post! My hubby and I can't go on road trips without audiobooks now too... so wonderful.

    Favorite childhood book:

    The Tanglewood's Secret by Patricia M St. John.

    When I was little, I was , ah, quite bold. If I liked a book, I would write the author. If I liked a movie, or actor, I wrote them. I wrote Megan Follows (Anne of Anne of Green Gables - got a letter from her), Patricia M St. John (and got a free book from her) and numberous others in my emboldened years ( like 4th-6th grade). :)

  37. I LOVE the library. Doesn't hurt when your local library is brand spankin' new and GORGEOUS as is the Santa Monica library. I go all the time!

    I am terrible at picking favorites... but let's just say for fun my favorite book is Douglas Adams Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It was a favorite as a kid and I still to this day have 3 copies of it :) Ok... I'm a nerd!

  38. i don't want to be a kill-joy, but the librarian in me reminds us that putting audiobooks on one's iPod does violate copyright. listening to the CD via a CD player in the car is fine though!

    on a lighter note: i am glad to see everyone's favorite books listed. i will add most of these which i haven't read to my to-read list.

    yay for books!

  39. I have 1 old favorite and 1 newer favorite to add:

    Patrick Henry: Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death (author not remembered at this moment)


    Creative Correction by Lisa Whelchel (from the Facts of Life)

  40. I love seeing all of these great books!!! FANTASTIC!!!

    quakerkid - I see this as an interesting dilema, especially if your ipod is your preferred audio player. If the intent is not to copy the audiobook, but merely to listen to it on your ipod when you're traveling from place to place and then to get rid of it once you're done, it would seem to be a similar situation. There are still so many issues that music companies need to figure out, and I think this is one of them. I know that you can "check out" digital copies of books... perhaps there is or could be something similar for audiobooks in which the digital file would "expire" after a certain length of time?

  41. To Kill a Mockingbird--Harper Lee it's actually about time that I pull that one out to read again

  42. michele11:57 AM

    so many great books. My favorite I'd say is the stories of briar rabbit that my dad read to me as a kid.

  43. megan doddridge1:18 PM

    i would definitely say the book "Mandy" by Julie Andrews (i think she used the name Julie Edwards)...i always wished i could have a secret place away from the world to plant flowers and have adventures...AND its written by such a princess!

  44. Sense and Sensibility-jane austen
    toot & puddle -holly hobby

    ok ok i put more than one..but thats just the way it is!!! i love books, i fight with my husband all the time, cause we have too many books! HA!

  45. Jonathan Adams4:46 PM

    Elementary School
    "That Pest Jonathan" author unknown

    in my 20s
    "Sex and Sunsets" by Tim Sandlin
    "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer

    in my 30s
    "I'm a Stranger Here Myself" or" Walk In the Woods"
    Bill Bryson

  46. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

    A novel for risk-takers, it brings clarity and purpose the unexpected; and and it is beautifully written!

  47. Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers

    The best book you will ever read!

  48. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn - Betty Smith. So glad I found your blog! I have tote bags for grocery shopping too. Yours is so cute!

  49. We have a winner!!! I decided to choose a winner by picking a random number - 33, and then counting down the list to see who left the 33rd comment! Damon is our winner!! Thank you to everyone who participated!!!

  50. Jo-Anne10:49 AM

    Great Expectations - I read it first when I was ten and have returned to it many times over the years.
    Charles Dickens was a wonderful storyteller whose characters come to life for the reader. Can anyone read Great Expectations and not vividly picture Miss Haversham in that decaying wedding dress?

    Anne, I had just checked online to see when my library books were due - the next thing I went to was your blog and this post about libraries - talk about timing!!!

  51. The email has been sent. You're the best, Anne!

  52. Can you tell us where/how we'd buy one of those bags?

  53. marimaya6:52 PM

    I just found your blog--

    Wanted to make sure you add The Little Prince to this list of books to read in a lifetime-- if you haven't already read it in anyone of the gazillion languages it's been translated into.

    Great BLOG!!!!


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