Lane Library is a resource for books, music and more
By Darrell Eifert, Head of Adult Services
Hampton Union, Tuesday, November 18, 2008
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Special to Hampton Union
As adults grow older, habits we had as children often fall by the wayside. We "grow up," "get wise," "find other things to do," and in general move on with our lives. One childhood habit worth going back to however, is that weekly trip to the public library.
When I was in my teens, I would walk into the Clearwater Public Library with my older brother's empty orange newspaper delivery bag slung over my shoulder. I would leave several hours later with enough books stuffed in that bag to make the librarians roll their eyes and wonder if I ever finished half of them. As a matter of fact, I did finish reading them — all of them, and was back several weeks later for more. Had we purchased all the books I wanted to read, my parents would probably have missed a mortgage payment or two. Had I been limited only to the books I could afford to buy, the memory of years spent in the company of so many luminous imaginations would now belong to some other fortunate individual.
Like most young people, I didn't know where libraries came from. As far as I knew, something magic happened: Books appeared on the shelves, and I could take out as many as I wanted. Cool. The words "local and county taxes" were not part of my adolescent vocabulary.
As adults of course, we know very few things worthwhile come free of charge, but also as adults we can figure out ways to minimize the cost and maximize the benefits of services that are important. Benjamin Franklin, whose adage "A penny saved is a penny earned" became a common proverb, is also credited as being the first person in American history to notice that while books were important and valuable, no one sat around and read everything in their individual little collections 24 hours a day. He reasoned that since books were so expensive and read only occasionally, why not set up a system whereby individuals could pool their money to buy the books they needed, then borrow and return them from a central location. It was a brilliant idea in 1731, and it continues to be a brilliant idea today.
The simple habit of "borrow and return" can save the average family in Hampton hundreds, even thousands of dollars a year. How? Consider for a moment that a best-seller costs $20 to $25 per title, music CDs are $15 each and even paperbacks are $8 or more. DVDs cost $20 each, magazine subscriptions are $20, and authoritative online information subscriptions such as genealogy databases can cost more than $100 a year. An audio book on CD for that daily commute is about $30. Children's books (the ones that kids devour like popcorn) can cost $10 to $20 each.
Dropping premium cable movie channels or a delivery-by-mail movie service and instead choosing titles from our collection of more than 3,000 DVDs and VHS films can again save more than $120 a year. And why not consider giving up cable or satellite TV completely and going back to books as your entertainment of choice? Books are portable, commercial free and adapt to your reading schedule (no TiVo necessary).
Apart from sheer entertainment value, a library is also the place to learn how to manage your life more efficiently and economically. Learn to cook Thai or Italian and save the cost of one or two meals out each week. Learn how to get out of debt and invest wisely. Learn how to repair and maintain an older automobile or computer instead of buying a new one. Find medical and nutritional information that will help lower your health-care costs. Find out how to buy the best quality for the lowest price on hundreds of consumer items. Check out a travel guide for inexpensive places to stay when overseas. Research new career paths and learn how to create a job resumé and prepare for the interview.
In tough economic times, with rising energy and food costs, we all look for ways to save money. Lane Memorial Library has more than 60,000 books, movies, music CDs, audio books, and magazines that belong to everyone in Hampton. Getting back into the habit of "borrow and return" can be simple, beneficial to your entire family, and above all, just makes sense.
Darrell Eifert is head of adult services
at Lane Memorial Library, 2 Academy Ave., Hampton.