Libraries are Cool and Free

Since my back injury a year ago, I have had a lot of time on my hands recovering. Now, I don’t like watching commercial television because of the ads and product placement on just about every show, and only watch ABC or SBS at a push. My only two other options for entertainment and learning were the Internet, and books. I chose mainly the the latter, mainly because a good book does not use electricity, and you can take it anywhere you choose to read it. On the train, in the garden, on your lunch break, laying down or standing up (I can’t sit for long coz of the injury), in bed or relaxing in the by the pool.

Now being the frugal bloke I am, and with books costing an absolute fortune for a decent reference, how to, or gardening book, I chose to visit our local library about three years ago. I thought to myself at the time, ‘Gavin, you pay rates, why not use some of the services you pay for in the shire?’ So I did. I was gobsmacked during my first visit. It was a relative smorgasbord of books (funny about that). The first topics I read about were Climate Change, but many of the books didn’t come with viable solutions except maybe ‘Heat’ by George Monbiot. Once I had enough of that doom and gloom, I turned to the subject of Peak Oil. At the time there were only a few books on the subject, and there are many more now. One of the best was ‘Half Gone’ by Jeremy Legget. More doom and gloom, so where were the solutions, I thought? I turned to the self sufficiency section, and found books on organic gardening, how to make preserves and pickles, making beer, energy efficiency, Permaculture and many more. Even a book about worm farming and how to treat them with the respect they deserve. If I needed to keep a specific section in a book, I either wrote out the recipe or photocopied the page at the library. There were so many books about solutions, it helped me decide which actions were viable on the budget I had at hand.

I think that in the two years since I had my green epiphany, I have bought about 3 books in total, and all gardening or sustainability books. I lend them out as often as I can to interested friends, but they are all boomerangs, because I use them all the time for reference. Other than those, it is the library as the first choice for me every time.

This brings me to the really cool part about our local library. I was in Melbourne about 4 months ago and was in a book store, and this really cool book called ‘Crap at the Environment’ by Mark Watson jumped off the shelf at me. Mark is a Melbourne based comedian and was trained by Al Gore as one of the Climate Crusaders who deliver the slide show to large audiences throughout the country. He delivers his in a very comical way. Anyway, I resisted the urge to buy the book there and then ($35 I didn’t have), and walked away hoping that the book was available at the library. I checked about a month later, but even though the library had it listed in the catalogue, it had not been purchased as yet and was not available for borrowing. So with my trusty library card in hand, I logged into the library website and put a hold on the book.

Guess what? Today, after about a month after I put the non-existent library book on hold, I received a letter in the post stating that the book was on hold for me at the Melton branch. The library staff had actually taken my suggestion and purchased the book from their allocated funds for the year. That is really cool. Not only did I get the book I wanted, I am the first to read our shire’s brand new copy of it, an the kicker is that it was all FREE!

I have read the first 20 pages and haven’t stopped laughing. It looks Iike a great journey of an average bloke who knew nothing about climate change, to someone who has risen to the challenge and is educating others about the crisis that we now face and got to meet Al in the process. If he makes a few buck in the process then good luck to him. I will do a bit of a book review once I am finished reading it.

To cap it all off, both of my daughters, who up until about a year ago would not have been caught dead in a nerdy library, are both proud library card holders. Megan borrows lots of school related material and some fiction, whilst Amy mainly hires DVDs of Stargate and Angel. Each to their own, but at least they are using a wonderful and free facility. Lead and they will follow!

Also during the last school holidays, I took Ben to the library to see a show, starring Pete the Magician. I laughed so hard my sides nearly split. He had a great mix of kid and adult jokes and tricks (that some of the kids didn’t understand) and it cost me $4 for the both of us. I was even in the show, with my wedding ring joined to two others from other audience members. It beats me how he did it, but I was a bit worried at the time! Now you don’t get a magic show for $4 anywhere else! He was hilarious and very good at his profession.

So, here’s to the libraries of the world, may they continue to aid helping the world to become a better place to live in by providing us with the wisdom of the ancients.


  1. says

    Hi Gavin,

    I too discovered the coolness of local library not long ago. I’ve been borrowing lots of green books like crazy since. I borrowed some of the books more than once. I wasn’t into libraries when I was a kid. I regret that. So many goodies are there for free. I definitely encourage everyone to try it. Here is my episode about the local library.Cool Library

  2. says

    Youre dead right Mate, libraries are cool. Whilst in the planning stages of my trip it was good to go there and grab a book related to a dot on my maps ie The Gibb River Road, nearly 600 km of bike busting bumpy gravel road near Derby in WA.


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