Buying books vs. borrowing from the library

I posted before about ebooks vs. print books but now I want to focus on buying books vs. borrowing from the library.  I am a librarian, so I obviously want to encourage people to use the library (it is good for my future employment) but I feel as though I can write on this subject based on my patterns as a reader.

Cost: The library itself cost money and is funded through taxpayer dollars, so you do not have to pay for the books (yay free!)  If you want to look at it another way, you have already paid for the books so you might as well take advantage of what you have paid for. Of course, if you get the book used or get a good deal on an ebook it might be worth it to grab it while you can so that you can add it to your collection.

Availability: Unlike the bookstore or an ebook provider, the selection at libraries can vary greatly depending on the library system (though the bookstores have less variety these days). I have lived places with great libraries and some places with not-great libraries.  If you live in a place with a great library, like where I live now, the books you want will be available for borrowing within a day or two.  If you live where I used to live the library may not have everything you are looking for or they may take a long time to deliver a book that you ordered.  Also, if a book is new it might take quite a while to get your hands on it for one of two reasons: everyone else is trying to get it or the library has not ordered it or processed it yet.

Space savings: My husband and I used to buy all of the books we wanted and rarely went to the library, which is a shame because we were poor college students. (We also should have known better because we were in library school students) This has lead to our current status of owning way too many books. If we had utilized the library more then perhaps we would have less (but that is not a guarantee)

Limited Risk: I mainly use the library to get books from authors I have never read or am unsure of (I do not want to buy a book if I am not sure that I will like it). This may seem as though we are not supporting the authors but the book was purchased by the library and if it is popular then the likelihood of the library purchasing the future books by that author will probably increase. If I find an author that I really like where I have read their books from the library I usually purchasing a book from them.

If there are books that we know we are going to want we just go ahead and buy them. Books by Jim Butcher or George R.R. Martin are bought automatically on their release date.   Lately, if we see that we can get the ebooks on special we buy those as well.

My husband and I utilize both the bookstore and the library to feed our addiction.  What about you?


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One Response to “Buying books vs. borrowing from the library”

  1. caitlinstern Says:

    I love getting books from the library, though I do purchase–usually pre-order–the books I have to read.

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