5 Reasons Why You Should Have a Library Card

Recently, Forbes received a lot of backlash for publishing an article arguing that public libraries should be closed and replaced with Amazon bookstores. The article has since been taken down, but you can still find the archived version here if you want something to be outraged about.

The author was trying to make a point using economic evidence, but libraries provide value that cannot be counted in dollars and cents. They are a safe space, a gathering hub, and a place of knowledge. It used to be that libraries were the only option you had when faced with a question. Now society has Google. But when you're looking for answers to questions you didn't know you had, perusing the stacks is a much more satisfying feeling than pressing the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button on a search engine.

Maybe you have a library card, and you never use it. Maybe you had one in your childhood town, but you never bothered to get one in college. Maybe you're spending the summer in another city, and you don't see the point of putting down roots. Whatever the case, read on to see why the (animated) cast of Arthur was right: having fun isn't hard when you've got a library card.

1. BOOKS. 

Young adult fiction. Cookbooks. Adult fiction. Comics. Gardening books. Atlases. Picture books. Psychology. Comedy. The variety feels almost limitless. Whatever you're into, the library is armed and ready with shelves and shelves of books in neat, alphabetized and Dewey-decimaled rows. 

Also, books are expensive. Adult fiction hardbacks often run to almost $30, and few college students can afford that price tag whenever they want to sink into the latest New York Times bestseller. Libraries allow voracious reading to be an affordable past time. 

Ready to take your book-borrowing skills to the next level? Start exploring your library's e-catalog. If the book you want isn't available in your library, you can put a copy on hold. Once you reach the top of the wait list, the book is yours. Also, library systems will often transfer books between branches upon request.

2. They're easy to get and last for years.

Usually, all you need to get a library card is some form of identification, like your driver's license, and proof of where you live. It takes about five minutes, and then you have access to all of the library's resources for years to come. 

3. Most libraries also have e-book libraries.

Depending on which side you take on the e-book debate, having access to thousands of free books without leaving your house could be a dream come true. Many (but not all) libraries offer audiobooks and ebooks that can be "checked out" just like regular books. They're compatible with e-readers, of course, but you can also read them directly from your browser if you don't own one. The same system applies here for placing a hold to join the wait list. 

4. Libraries are full of cozy chairs, big study tables, and free WiFi. 

During finals week, all of the libraries and study spaces on UGA campus turn into a Hunger Games-esque free-for-all. On the other hand, the Athens Clarke County Public Library remains a calm oasis with plenty of tables to go around. 

5. They offer lots of additional resources. 

Many library systems also include physical materials like DVDs and magazines along with online access to tons of resources like educational videos or databases. If you spend a few minutes poking around your library's website, you may be able to find that documentary you need to watch for class or years of back issues of Cosmopolitan...both equally important, of course. 

So go ahead, get a library card and check out that book you've been wanting to read.