I'll admit that I never really got the hang of using libraries. I grew up overseas and we didn't have libraries, we had a book man who lugged a suitcase around all the expats' homes selling second-hand paperbacks. But that's another story ...
My first experience of a library was when I went to boarding school and I was utterly overwhelmed. If permitted, I'd have moved into the library in my first school. It was one of those dark, old-fashioned reading-rooms. Instead, I made do with hiding in every nook & cranny I could find and read almost constantly. My senior school had a more modern and comprehensive library, as befitted a school who took academic attainment seriously. But it lacked in atmosphere and I was a terrible student who hadn't - yet - got the idea of independent research, so spent worryingly little time in there.
When my daughter needed to borrow library books for school projects, it was a seemingly impossible task. An entire class full of children all after the same books, all from the same small local libraries, without sufficient resources. Being a working parent, I was never able to get to the library early enough and so we ended up having to beg, borrow or more usually - buy - what was needed.
On top of all of this, I simply adore bookshops. I could spend hours browsing and always seem to come out with at least half a dozen books I'd not planned on buying when I went in. Plus, I've always loved having over-filled bookcases. To me, it makes a house seem more like a home and so my biggest indulgence for many a year has been the buying of books.
But libraries are under threat and my already over-full bookcases have made me see the value of borrowing rather than keeping. My bank account thanks this thought too! I've recently re-registered with my local library and have been reserving books from the Man Booker longlist for my read-along readathon. It's saving me a fortune (£0.75 to reserve a book versus anything up to £10 to buy a copy). And at that price, being disappointed in a book isn't too high a price to pay.
I've always chosen to own books and to keep them on my shelves. And to distribute them afterwards to friends and family. Of course, that latter has meant I've ended up buying multiple copies of favourites which don't get returned. Maybe it's time to just borrow and stop lending.
At this rate, my kindle could end up only being used when I travel ...
Better yet, my niece can be proud of me for returning to the world of real books!