Don’t buy. Borrow!


I have this urge to acquire stuff. Maybe it’s a power thing, maybe it’s a girl thing, or maybe it’s a culture thing. Regardless of the cause, compulsive consumption is thwarting my attempt at living simply.

One way to satisfy my desire to acquire without the consequence of finding a home for more things is to borrow.

I have always loved libraries. Some of my fondest and most distinct memories are set in libraries. From the pillowed kids’ corner in the basement of the Vineyard Haven library on Martha’s Vineyard to the Tiffany glass floors of the Pratt Library in Brooklyn, I have found wonder and comfort in these spaces.

Pratt Library, Brooklyn (photo courtesy of bbusby)

The weather could be blazing hot, rainy or perfectly pleasant, when I ask my boys where they would like to go on any given day, “the library!” is the destination of choice (sorry, Belmont Park and Discovery Museum).

The other day, we headed over to Central Library on Market Street with a stack of books and a DVD to return. Inside, we checked out the trains in the display case, picked out some new arrivals and got cozy by the wrought iron staircase and carpeted window seats.

Central Library, hooray!

Usually, we’ll leave with a few books and maybe the coveted Fire Trucks DVD, but not today. Content and full with new ideas, vibrant illustrations and classic adventures, we hopped through the giant stone columns out front with empty bags.

When my husband and I were living in a trailer on a friend’s ranch in Yreka, California we frequented the local library. Not only was the library an endless source of entertainment in this rural Northern California town, it also served as another type of lending resource. A card-carrying library patron could also check out tools. There was an area where drills, saws, even ladders were available for borrowing (This type of lending was not new to me, as I had experienced a tool library before when I was living in Michigan.). Sadly, these types of lending programs seem to be few and fading.

If recent political discussions are any indication, libraries are seen as obsolete and at the very least, expendable. As part of a consumer-driven culture it is easy to miss the value of lending, however, I for one hope that by sharing we can change our culture of consumption to one of sustainable community. How satisfying!

Borrowed any good books lately (or tools)?



Beyond the library: 

New resources are increasing becoming available online to assist the traditional neighborly exchange of goods. One era’s next door request for eggs is now a logon, search and email exchange finalized by the egg drop at some mutually approved location.

Craig’s list offers listings for barter’s. Freecycle offers goods and servics for, well, free. Other sights such as ShareSomeSugar help you to invite members of your local community to join you in setting up a swap group. There is also Freecyle and more. Set up a swap group and get sharing!