Voting for Public Libraries

January 30th, 2019

Week 5: The 2019 Voting with My Dollar Project

Here’s a weird way I use Amazon Prime all the time: to buy books. 

Obviously, like most humans with a soul, my preferred way to acquire books is via library rental. But the library route has not been efficient for me for several years — mainly because of the children. Taking children under four to a library is something everyone else I know seems to handle with grace. For me, it’s been a nightmare that I would not subject myself, the librarian, the library itself, or the other patrons to.

Add to that the difficulty of finishing a book in under three weeks — or even six — when you’re chronically sleep-deprived and also have a New Yorker subscription, and the library route has not been achievable.

That’s slowly shifting. I’ve been averaging about a novel a month, and if I can keep up this pace, I can probably start checking out library books again. Also, I took one of my daughters to the library the other day for an hour, and she did not burn it down. So there’s hope for that, too. 

Eliza at the Guilford free library

But the other challenge I have with library books is that libraries rarely have the book I want to read in stock. Typically, it’s a book that just came out, and everyone else wants to read it, too, so there is a long waiting list. 

For instance, months ago, a friend recommended There There by Tommy Orange. This friend is highly reliable when it comes to book recommendations (the anchor of most of my best friendships) and so I went to the library to see if I could get on the waitlist for it.

A word about our local library: it’s tiny. You might expect a library of this size and adorableness…

Guilford VT free library

… to be mostly for show, but the Guilford Free Library is actually highly functional. They’ve managed to jam quite a few relevant and excellent books into a very small space while also having lightning-fast fiber optic internet, a very comfy armchair, and an entire room full of children’s books and toys. 

But they didn’t have Tommy Orange. I requested it, and Cathi (that’s our devoted librarian) said she’d order it. But a few months later, it still had not arrived.

I could have special-ordered it from the bookstore, but There There is still in hardcover, and buying a hardcover seems frivolous to me. And I am, as I said, determined not to use Amazon Prime unless I really can’t get the item anywhere else. 


What I’ve learned about this Amazon Prime experiment, incidentally, is that there really isn’t anything you can’t get somewhere else — even if you have to go to Target. But you may have to practice a fair amount of patience to get the thing. No more instant gratification; now it’s more like really hard-fought, you-deserve-this gratification.

Case in point: There There. I checked back in with the library, and found that my name has not been on the waiting list this entire time after all, because something about “new books, six months, no waiting list, blah blah.”

It’s been six months, so after security clearance and a rigorous IQ test, I was finally put on a real waiting list for There There. (I think. Will report back.) 

Now, I just have to finish Milkman

This project is ongoing and of course, highly subjective. I love information, so if I got something wrong, or you know something I don’t, please let me know! 


What I’m eating:


Who gave me this? I love this cookbook!

What I’m reading: 

See above, but also, this McSweeney’s piece is terribly funny.

What I’m watching:

Okay, I am always years behind every TV trend because I watch like 2 hours of TV a month, but I recently watched the first few episodes of High Maintenance, and it was terribly good. I judge a TV show by my ability to watch it without having an anxiety attack — either about the show or because it’s not engaging enough and my mind wanders to all The Stressors. So this one was a win for me.

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