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Things that will stick

Handkerchiefs and the library.  Seriously.  I tried a lot of things last year, and some of them I will probably continue for a long time.  But these two I can be sure of.

I started with the handkerchief thing because I knew I would run out of tissues and I was afraid I would run out of toilet paper. I really didn’t want to have to use cloth at the end of 07 – my apartment is small and laundry is not so easy.  I asked my grandmother if we could make some handkerchiefs when we had our sewing visit last year; she suggested instead that she give me a stack of old men’s cotton hankies.  Perfect!  They are soft on the nose and less gross than it might seem.  Plus, having a hankie in your bag is great for many things: spilled coffee, a forgotten napkin, etc.   

As the daughter of a librarian and a big reader, you’d think the public library would be a no-brainer.  But the New York system seemed like all of the other crazy city bureaucracies and since college I’d gotten in the habit of writing in my books and thinking I’d need to go back to them.  So I’d been buying books new!  Not very often and not very many, but this was a practice I clearly didn’t need to engage in. 

Last year I started exploring the options with the NYPL: there is a branch not too far from my house, but even better, there is a tiny branch right by work.  I realized that I can’t approach them like bookstores, browsing like I did as a kid, but rather like my mailbox for Netflix.  Anytime someone recommends something to me, I put it on my library list online.  If 221 other people are waiting for it, I’m sure there’s something else I can read in the meantime, or, I can assess other options, like seeing if a friend has it or buying it used.  Eventually my request turns up at the library I choose, and they conveniently send me an email letting me know it’s there.  They’ll even hold it for a few weeks if I can’t get to it right away.  This little system is so perfect: I’ve read some things that I decided I needed to own, so I bought them used without a second thought.  

Not just for my mom’s sake, I have to push this one: please, please, please support your public library, one of the most democratic and First Amendment-positive institutions we have going.  It turned out to be way easier than I thought it would be; if I can do it in New York City, you can too.     

Posted on Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 05:21PM by Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf in | Comments3 Comments

Reader Comments (3)

I just stumbled across your site today via your comment on No Impact Man. What an inspiring project! Thank you.

February 20, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMissy Keenan

Librarys rock!
I've been taking my 5 year old nephew to his local library a couple times a month and now he even has his own library card.
So, I will add, don't just support your local library, introduce the kids to the library.
They are the ones who can really save this planet.

February 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJenn

I love NYPL. I have never been into buying books, and make regular trips to the library during my lunch break to take out books and magazines to read during the gym. And if I have to wait to read a book, well, it makes me all the more excited to read it!

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