Budget Booking is a feature I decided to do to highlight the various places and ways you can get books to read in the UK when you’re short on money or fancy saving a few pennies. I’ve decided to start with the most obvious: the library. This information is based off of my own experiences with my own local libraries in Leicestershire. I assume that give or take this information is countrywide.
I will presume that most of you when trying to save money already make good use of the library but I know also that a lot of you don’t. I know this because I was the same. I refused to use the library for years for two reasons.
One because I like to own my books. If I’ve read something and enjoyed it, I like it to be on my shelf. But of course, I came to realise that’s silly because you don’t have to get all of your books from the library. I just borrow the ones I’d like to read but aren’t too bothered about owning. After all, if you change your mind after, what’s to stop you buying it later?
And two because I always had crazy high late fees. My most memorable was £16 from the city library (of which I still owe £10 of and still won’t go in there because I’m not paying back a 5 year old late fee), which I know isn’t the worst, but I could have just bought the books for that price. However, late fees shouldn’t be too much of a problem these days.
Not having time to pop down to the library to renew or return books in time should hopefully now be a thing of the past because you can renew online. They give you a pin number (if they don’t, ask for one) that you can use alongside your library card number to renew, reserve, and request books on the county library’s website. You are also able to search for particular books you might be interested in, and it will tell you if there are copies in stock, which libraries in the county have them, and also information about whether the book is in or out on loan and when it should be due back by, and then reserve it online if you feel it’s necessary. You can use your county library card in any library in your county, so if you don’t want to pay the £1 charge for your library ordering books in from other libraries, you can visit them yourself.
The great thing about browsing in a library is the same as browsing in a book shop: it’s a little like a treasure hunt, amongst all the James Patterson and Mills & Boon and unheard of, bland titles, there will almost always be a little gem, and occasionally you will find a book that you might not have found otherwise that ends up being a great read. They also tend to sell on their old stock, so keep your eye on their ‘for sale’ shelves – every now and then you’ll find a great deal.
You’re able to borrow up to 24 books at any one time. As the lovely Scottish librarian told me, “If you’re able to carry 24 books, you take 24 books, by all means.” You can borrow each book for 3 weeks, and you can renew them up to 5 times, which means you can borrow a book for 18 weeks (or 4 and a half months). It is, of course, polite to take your books back as soon as you can when you’ve finished with them to give other borrowers a chance to read them too.
Libraries have become absolutely fantastic in the past few years, so there really is no excuse for not using the library when you’re trying to save money.
If you have anything to add, any information I might have missed or any stories about great titles found in libraries or whatever, please do comment!