Library Membership

While on a long lonely walk today (ironically, immediately after watching Liverpool play) I saw this library not too far from my house. It was called Just Books, I think, but I’m not sure of the name. With my British Council Library membership due for renewal in a couple of months, and doubts about whether I want to renew it (the library is too far, and I’ve stopped getting excited by the collection there), I’m considering membership to this library.

I took a look at the books today, and there were two major turnoffs. One was a section labeled “non-fiction” (whatever that is supposed to mean!). I don’t remember the other one right now – but I do remember having one other turn off while I was there. Apart from that, though, the collection seems good, which makes me think I should take membership there.

I found a lot of books there that I’ve read, or want to read, but wouldn’t borrow because I already own them. Now, I don’t know how to interpret this. The positive way of looking at it is that given that I like a lot of books that are there, they’re more likely to get other books of “my kind”, too. The negative way of looking at it is that I already own all the interesting books there that I want to read, so the membership wouldn’t add much value to me. The clincher, I guess, is about the frequency with which they update their collection. If they are going to buy new books on a regular basis, then I guess this will work out for me.

The other thing I liked about the library is that it has multiple copies of a lot of books. I think that is always a good thing, for you wouldn’t want to wait forever for someone to read that book that you want to read. They follow the netflix pricing model, where you pay a fixed fee (Rs 150) per month and there are no late fees. So by taking longer with a book, you are essentially denying yourself bang for the buck that you’re going to be paying them regularly (In the past I’ve “bailed out” of a library membership that followed this model. I didn’t go for a while, and then realized that the amount due was so high that I didn’t mind losing the deposit I’d placed there and I never bothered returning the books I’d “borrowed” from there).

And do any of you use Justbooks already? Do you like it? What are the odds that you go to the library and find nothing that you want to read?

Library sourcing

It’s been close to two years since I took up membership at the British Council Library in Bangalore and of late I’ve been thinking that I won’t extend my membership after it expires this December. The library hasn’t been very active in updating its book stocks, and seeing the same books in the same places again and again (my interests mean I’m limited to a handful of shelves in the library) gets monotonous, and there have been times when I’ve borrowed books just for the heck of it.

Yesterday, I was meeitng Kodhi after which I wanted to go to the library (since books were due for return), and he offered me to come along with me. And for the first time in a very long time, I had too many books from which I had to decide which ones to take home. There had been books which I’d been seeing at their regular places time and again, and had never felt the need to read until Kodhi told me about them and convinced me to borrow them. Overall, it was a very pleasant visit to the library.

Going forward, I think I’ll extend this strategy. Every time I go to the library, I’ll take along a different person – hopefully someone who understands well my interests and reading habits, and see if I make better use of the library. Since there are two months left before my membership expires, I hope to have got more data on this (how “successful” visits to the library are when I go with a friend) and can make a better decision about giving up the membership (it costs around Rs. 2000 per year).