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I once saw someone point out something I hadn’t really considered before- libraries are one of the only places that are warm and dry where you can stay for long periods of time if you have no money. If you’re someone with nowhere to go during the daytime, they provide a safe environment in which to keep a roof over your head for a while- and all while you can access information.

So yes. This.

It’s weird…libraries almost feel /wrong/ now. It’s like I walk in and think “This is great…where do I put my money?”

I used to work on a campus library and if you want someplace to put your money, so to speak, make sure you put books back in the designated areas. I know you think you’re being helpful by reshelving, but even if you pull something out to read a couple paragraphs just stick it in the basket for things you didn’t want. I don’t care if you know EXACTLY where you are. In academic libraries (at least in Texas) our funding was determined by how many books people looked at. So we got additional funding based on books not being reshelved. If there’s a designated shelf/basket for things you don’t want, stick things in it!

What @standbyyourmantis said about not reshelving is true for public libraries, too. Our funding is dictated largely by how ‘used’ we are, so we scan all the items that are laying about as In House Use. That, tied with Reference Count and Door Counter numbers (we have to manually put in the time we take for references) to prove we’re providing a needed service.
We also have to count the number of people who come for our programs, which not only helps funding but shows that the programming/services are needed, as well.
So, basically, if you want to feel like you’re making sure we’re getting paid and staying around, keep these in mind.

I didn’t know that’s why you’re not supposed to reshelf!

Wow! That’s astounding!


I’ve lost how many times I get asked about how much it costs to get a library card. It’s free. Everything is free unless it’s late or you lose an item.

Free. Free. Free. Free.

And you do not necessarily have to live in the area covered by that library system.

I have both Arlington and DC cards. I’m not using the DC one much right now because of the MLK refurbishment, but they gave it me no questions asked despite not living in DC.

This isn’t always true, but it’s always worth asking if you can get a card for a neighboring county, and it can come in handy. Some systems will grant a card to anyone who lives in the state. Some, like DC, will grant a card to anyone. Others charge people who live outside the area, but this can be as low as $10/year. This can be worth it if you like ebooks.

Many jurisdictions will also issue temporary cards, particularly useful if you travel somewhere and are doing research.

Libraries save lives.

I am proof.

I work for the public library system that covers five counties in mostly-rural southwest Washington. If you are NOT in an area covered by our system, you might be from an area we have a Reciprocal Borrowing Agreement with, which means you can get our card free. If you’re a resident of Washington state (or for some reason just one county in Oregon) you can also buy a non-resident card (though it’s $88 per year, at present). Only here for a short time? You can get a temp card for $8 bucks.

ALSO: While most of our cards require Proof of Address, there is an “Internet Only” card which does NOT (and is free!). It won’t let you check out books, but it will let you use library computers, which can be really helpful if you just moved or are homeless and need to do all the things which will help you have proof-of-address later!

You do NOT need the internet card to use the wi-fi. The library wi-fi is open and free.

(If any Washington peeps have questions about this specific library, I will do my best to answer ‘em. I’m a designer, though, not front-line staff).