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My new home has an excellent library system.

Patrons of the public city library have access not only to the holdings of all three branches of the city library, but also to the holdings of the state library (which is also in town) and the local state university library.

All five libraries use a common catalog, so searching for an item at any library will tell you if it’s at that library or if it’s in any other library in the system. And if you want a particular item delivered to your local library location, all you have to do is ask for it. They’ll go fetch it for you, and when they’ve got it in your branch of choice, they’ll let you know it’s ready to be picked up. And you can return any borrowed item to any of the five locations.

They also participate actively in interlibrary loan, giving patrons access to books from all over the country, and they don’t charge for the service. The library in the last town I lived quoted me prices for interlibrary loan that made me think I’d be better off buying used copies of the books I wanted through Amazon, eBay, or Barnes & Noble.

Furthermore, the state library and the university library have access to large digital collections of books, all of which can be accessed online from any patron’s home simply by entering the patron number from your library card. From right here at home, I can read thousands of books online, many of which are quite expensive and hard to find at most public libraries.

Items are borrowed for four weeks at a time and can be renewed once online or over the phone. So you can get a book and keep it for up to eight weeks without having to take it back to the library. That far surpasses the lending period of any other public library I’ve ever been to.

And it all comes free as a resident of the town. Well, we do all pay property taxes in one way or another, and there is a 5% sales tax on all goods sold in the city. But there’s no additional fee at the library.

As a (nearly pathological) bibliophile, I love this aspect of my new home!