There’s a valuable resource available to students, starving artists, savvy entrepreneurs and everyone else that often goes unused and forgotten: The Public Library.

Let’s face it, books (and other media) are expensive. While others think of Amazon first for books, I look to the library.

The American Library Association and the Dewey Decimal System date back to 1876. But in the age of smart phones and streaming media, we sometimes forget that we’re paying for this service (via taxes) and we should be taking full advantage.

More than books

Yes the library has books, magazines and newspapers. Most people realize they also have CDs, DVDs and even ebooks to borrow. But sometimes there’s more.

Space is often available for free/cheap. WordCamp Minneapolis 2013 held BuddyCamp at the Minneapolis Central Library and it got rave reviews. The swankiness of their facility far exceeded the expectations that are set when someone mentions “The Library.”

The Modern Library

For finding real-world items to bring home, you don’t have to bother with going in to the library and sifting through hundreds of index cards. The library has modernized itself to everyone’s benefit.

You can search their catalogs online and make a reservation. They’ll send you an email when your request is ready to be picked up.

Libraries are usually managed at the county or city level. If you live in a multi-city/county area, the adjacent cities/counties will often let you borrow from them, without even getting a new card.

Minnesota has a fantastic Inter-Library Loan program which covers the entire state. So if I want to find something that my local library doesn’t have, they’ll search the catalogs of all the counties plus many colleges and universities where I normally may not have access. And they’ll deliver my request to my home library where I can ride my bike there and pick it up.

Order of Precedence

When someone recommends a book, a movie, or album here’s my order of searching precedence:

Local library (Anoka County Library)
Regional library (Hennipen & Ramsey County)
State library or Inter-Library Loan (
Other (Torrents, Newsgroups, etc.)

To not ignore my inner consumer-capitalist – often if I really like something, I’ll return it the public library and purchase it for my own personal library.

4 thoughts on “The Library

  1. Hey, I just got back from the library! I always try to hit up a catalog search before adding something to my wishlist, especially if I’m only planning to read it once. My local library is pretty small, so I have to do a lot of loans but I haven’t used the statewide search before, I’ll have to try that out.

    But when I can borrow them, my bookshelves are basically at max capacity so I try to do ebooks when I can, or better yet audiobooks. Libraries are starting to have a better selection of ebooks and sometimes they’re pretty cheap when you do have to buy them, but not audiobooks, those are still crazy spendy. I’m eagerly awaiting the Netflix of audiobooks…

    • A flipside of the Amazon/library relationship is… many libraries sell older editions or extra copies used on Amazon for as low as $2. I’ve purchased a couple used library books via Amazon’s “used” selection.

      • That’s a good idea, I love digging through used bookstores, but never think to look for used books on Amazon unless it’s out of print.

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