The Art and Skill of Library Whoring

A few years ago, I went through an epic psychological battle about whether or not I could step back into school mode and live off assistantship wages. I decided that yes, I could, and I am now heading into year five of making less than $15,000 a year. It definitely takes its toll, and like the U.S. government that we know and love so well, I am forced to either crash and burn financially or to dramatically reign in my spending.

As a book person, I enjoy a good home library as much as anyone, which is to say that one of the ways I deal with anxiety is to buy books from Amazon. I do tend to read them, but I buy at a much faster pace! It becomes an internal contest to get all the “cool books” on the shelf to impress visitors who are really few and far between and generally don’t have that much interest in my bookshelf as I want them to. It’s like back in high school when I tried to buy up every CD I could ever want. Well, now my CDs are all but irrelevant and useless in today’s world, and I am ready to enter the 21st century in regards to music. Oh, what I wouldn’t do to go back and undo my CD buying 15 years ago! Live and learn.

I also used to be that student who thought he needed to keep all his textbooks for the future, when I would refer back to them. What a fiction that was. So all this to say that one of the ways I try to save money while in perpetual-adult-student mode is by religiously using libraries. I refer to this as “library whoring”: one little act of resistance that has saved me hundreds of dollars over the past half-decade. The goal is really to avoid buying books for class whenever I can get them in the library instead. Libraries both on campus and in your city can be helpful, and I have even used the various processes out there for getting books on loan from elsewhere. Sometimes, of course, I do want the book in the long term, so I break down and buy it. No need to be a perfectionist on this worthwhile pursuit.

To my annoyance, a few years ago I tried to get a book on loan from a campus library, and I got an e-mail back saying I could not get the book because it was a textbook and I was supposed to buy it. How ridiculous is that? Talk about Big Brother. How did “the system” know the book was for a class? And who out there has nothing better to do than try and control how I go about getting books?

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