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Bellevue, WA, 98007
United States

Going Small(er)

Reading Smaller

Marc Scattergood

The arrival of a small, noisy human being in our lives last year mysteriously put our downsizing on hold. Good grief, babies come with STUFF. We’ve tried to keep the “stuff acquisition” to a minimum, but when it comes to a choice between less STUFF or more sanity, well…

But, things are getting (a little) easier, and as such we are finding time, here and there, to responsibly continue downsizing and reallocation. One of the things we both dread trying to focus on is our remaining collection of books. Yes, we still have paper books, because they hold memories and when the power goes out, your device battery only lasts so long (winter 2006, we had no power for five days after an ice storm rolled through). So yeah, great, you can get a lot of books electronically now—that’s a little bit like buying the same music over and over (We’re old enough to have had music on records, then CDs, now digitally). What other options are there?

The library.

Media makes a big deal about libraries being a thing of the past. They’re not. Libraries, and the people in them are an amazing resource. And what I use a library for may be entirely different than what you might need. Here are some examples of what the library has given me:

  • Printing out documents

  • Filling out specific forms online (to print out above-mentioned documents)

  • Recycling batteries

  • Getting information from Labor and Industries on appropriate practices for consultants (lecture)

  • Storytime for our son (our libraries offer “storytime” in more than a dozen languages, including Russian, Hindi, Mandarin, Spanish, and Farsi)

  • Checking out audio CDs

  • Accessing online software tutorials (our library has a deal with and increasing my familiarity with SQL, PhotoShop, and other applications

  • Downloading e-books using Overdrive and reading them on my tablet (without ever leaving home)

  • And of course, still checking out physical copies of books

Here’s a glance at just some of the programming our downtown library offers—did you think the library was just books?

What else can you potentially do at your local library? Well, in addition to my list, and all the cool stuff above, what about checking out DVDs? (If we didn’t already have digital copies of our movies, another culling project would loom here.)  Repair your bicycle? Taking a cooking class? Check out comic books? Getting help writing a resume, or practicing language skills? Connecting with the correct government organization for benefits? Pick up tax forms, read local (and not so local) newspapers, and magazines (online and print).  Some libraries even loan out items that aren’t media related, like sewing machines, musical instruments, or tools. Oh, are you still thinking about books? There’s also Interlibrary Loan (ILL) which is when one library lends another something.  

If you’re in an unfamiliar place, your best resource is most likely the library. The people who work there don’t just love books: they love information and sharing knowledge, and they want to share it with you.

I’m still figuring out what we HAVE to keep in our book collection, but I’m reaching a greater level of comfort with further reducing our book collection. I can’t wait until our little boy is old enough to really understand all the amazing things he can do at the library.