Public Libraries Are Underrated

public libraries

When I get free time, my first instinct is to turn to Netflix.

I enjoy scouring the different TV show and movie options, wondering what to check out next. If I’m not doing that, I’m wandering through Spotify or scrolling through products on Amazon.

I know I’m not the only one. With the Internet, we have endless opportunities to entertain ourselves with online media.

It’s quickly and easily accessible. Most of the time, all you have to do is click a button and that movie you’ve been waiting to watch is playing. With e-books, you can search through thousands of authors, self-published or traditional, to find anything your heart desires. And, if there’s one book that you’ve been waiting weeks to buy, you can quickly click on it the second it’s available to the public.

While I’m a huge e-book fan because of how accessible it makes stories, I have started to worry about the cost. I really enjoy reading and go through books very quickly. It means I keep having to buy more and more, which isn’t doing anything good for my wallet.

That’s why I recently began looking into public libraries.

public libraries
Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

When I think of public libraries, my mind immediately goes to elementary and middle school. I think about walking to the library five minutes from my house and packing a bag filled with teen novels. I remember all my old school reading requirements and always having to bring an independent reading book to class. I never minded it. My parents would be forced to drive me to the larger town library — an absolute heaven to me.

Because of all that, public libraries feel like a thing of the past. I never considered them much when going on reading sprees because I was so used to using new technology that gave me stories at the click of a button.

Since getting to college, I’ve had to think more about what books I can buy. I’m already paying for food, coffee, and a variety of other things. It makes it less tempting to waste money on books that I could easily get for free.

Fortunately, for me, I found a public library only eight hundred feet from my dorm. I was totally taken by surprise when I checked it out, not because it was any different from a basic public library, but because I’d forgotten how amazing they were.

The library on my campus literally had every book I’d been searching for on my Kindle. Obviously, not all public libraries have so many options, but I was amazed that I’d been ignoring this resource that was sitting right in front of me.

And the best thing about all those books? They’re completely, totally free.

As a college student, anything free is a blessing. And I don’t think enough people take advantage of public libraries and how much free stuff they offer (as long as you bring things back on time).

Even if you’re not a book person, they’ve got movies, comic books, and even textbooks. If movies do have a fee at a library, it’s usually pretty low. It’s definitely cheaper than finding something to watch on Youtube or Amazon. All you have to do is go to a physical library to see if they have what you need.

public libraries
Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

I was also fortunate in that the library had some of the books I needed for class. This is a definite plus for college students – before spending tons of money on all those textbooks, check and see if there are local libraries you can borrow these books from. I’m saving nearly thirty dollars simply because I did some research and was able to borrow my books rather than buy them.

We’re constantly searching for deals, discounts, and free things. Yet, when it comes to public libraries, which have been around for decades, people don’t seem to care enough. Most people overlook them, despite all of the media they offer.

I know public libraries aren’t accessible to everyone, but if you do have one in your vicinity, make sure to make the most of it. Sure, the world may be headed online, but that doesn’t mean all physical things must end. Public libraries are a blessing that nobody notices. I’m glad I re-connected with my roots to find this piece of my childhood that’s come to help me out today.

They don’t have to be a thing of the past – people just need to recognize their usefulness.

Photo by Tobias Fischer on Unsplash

Also published on Medium.