Library Dilemma

BlogHer Original Post

Last week when I was on vacation I found my crazy. My crazy decided that I was moving back to Montreal and found me an apartment in twenty minutes. My non-crazy (as well as pretty much all my friends and family) happens to think this is a great idea as well so it's good. And while the decision was very sudden and out of the blue I did make a list of pros and cons before I firmly decided (well, sort of...at least that's what I'm telling myself, my crazy kinda scares me sometimes). One of the big honking cons of moving is that Toronto has what I feel must be one of the best public library systems in North America. The Toronto Public Library has 99 branches (including mine, just two blocks away), over 11 million items and I can have something like 50 items on request at one time. Yes, I have maxed that. Yesterday I told my favourite librarian (whose name I still don't know) that I was leaving and she was not impressed, although after telling her my reasons she did eventually give me her permission. I big puffy red heart the TPL.

Montreal libraries really aren't comparable. At all. Not even a little bit. I basically have a choice of two libraries. Library A is fairly close. It costs $35/year and has a rich history. What it does not appear to have are many popular books that are on my To Be Read list. Either that or I really have no bloody clue how to use their search system but I really don't think that's it. Books that I searched for include Eat, Pray, Love and An Abundance of Katherines. When I couldn't find either of them I decided to search for a classic, A Wrinkle in Time. They didn't have that either! I don't know that I can belong to a library that does not have A Wrinkle in Time.

Library B is walkable, at least in good weather. In bad weather it is definitely a bus trip. I belonged to this library when I last lived in Montreal and it has an excellent collection and it's in a beautiful building. What's the problem? Well, the last time I belonged this library Montreal had an "Une île, une ville" (one island, one city) thing going on. So the library was available to anyone in Montreal for $2/year even if you didn't live in the district limits. That sentiment is now gone and as a non-district member I'd have to pay $119/year. Yes, you read that right. One hundred nineteen dollars. Per year. Don't get me wrong. I believe in giving libraries money. I donate to my local library, both money and books, on a regular basis. But $119 for a membership feels like a kick in the gut. When I saw that online my response was "ouch!"

I can't imagine my life without a library. So not having a library account doesn't seem right to me. True, I could probably not get a single book from the library and the unread books in my bookshelves would keep me busy for a couple of months. And there are some great second-hand bookstores. And I will be living close to two large chain bookstores. As much as $119 hurts, reading even 5 books from the library would cover the cost of the membership. But the cost still seems a bit extreme.

So what do you think? Is $119 for a library membership too much? Do you pay for your library membership? What would your limit be?

When she's not off finding her crazy, contributing editor Sassymonkey also blogs at Sassymonkey and Sassymonkey Reads.

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