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Photo by Stewart Butterfield on flickr, used under Creative Commons license.

Librarian in Residence: We spend the money so you don’t have to!

By Jessica Green on May 7, 2016


Jessica Green is a book addict and library card holder since the age of 3. She’s a librarian at the Ottawa Public Library and currently the Apartment613 Librarian-in-Residence, sharing a compendium of literary thoughts and tips.

I have often joked with my friends that I can’t afford my reading habit since if I had to buy everything I read, I’d have an apartment full of books and nowhere to sleep. I have always been an avid reader, even before I became a librarian, and for fun, I started keeping track of what I have read so far this year.

For instance, I read 47 books in January, a combination of graphic novels, fiction, nonfiction and YA novels. If I use an average price for each of these categories and calculate what it would have cost me to buy all these books at full price, well suffice to say, it was more than my rent!

Let’s run through some scenarios that show how you can save that hard earned cash by using the library. All scenarios assume paying full price for the items mentioned so no sale prices from online retailers and then the full prices used have been averaged together from books here at the library:

Scenario #1

We have a family made of two parents and two kids. The kids are encouraged to take out about 15 books each when they come. The mother enjoys reading tabloid magazines and takes out four, as well as borrowing some cookbooks on French cuisine. The father borrows music CDs, and a few Scandinavian mysteries plus a guidebook to plan their upcoming trip to Vancouver. The mother also picked up the Ottawa Museums pass after a friend raved about the Diefenbunker.

Avg. Price Amount Cost
Picture books $22.99 30 $689.70
Magazines $9.05 4 $36.20
Adult fiction $29.15 5 $145.75
Adult non fiction $33.66 6 $201.96
Museum pass $40.00 1 $40.00
CDs $13.99 5 $69.95
Total savings this visit are: $1,183.56


Scenario #2

Wanting to brush up on some long neglected skills, our patron in this scenario has borrowed some books on how to draw botany and scientific illustrations. They also enjoy reading magazines like the New Yorker and National Geographic, but prefer versions they can see on their tablet using Zinio. They love to binge watch BBC shows and picked up three seasons of various shows they put on hold. They also spotted the newest hot memoir everyone is reading on the Express shelf and grabbed it as well.

Avg. Price Amount Cost
Adult nonfiction $33.66 5 $168.30
Magazines $9.05 6 $54.30
DVDs (seasons) $61.49 3 $184.47
Total savings this visit are: $407.07


Scenario #3

Our next patron is a huge fan of graphic novels and wants to read all the Bone series, plus a few other indie comics. She also found the next novel in her current favourite YA series, and picked up a read-alike she saw suggested in the catalogue. She spotted a new release she missed at the movie theatre and also grabbed a few of the older movies on the shelf. Her hold came in about square foot gardening, and she got the latest Canlit book from the Express shelf.

Avg. Price Amount Cost
YA novels $22.99 3 $68.97
Adult non fiction $33.66 1 $33.66
Graphic novels $18.99 6 $113.94
DVDs $40.97 4 $163.88
Total savings this visit are: $380.45


So you can see in three quick scenarios how much can be saved in just one visit. Assuming about a visit a month (as books are due every three weeks), making 12 visits a year, the people here can save anywhere from $4,565.40 to $14,202.72 a year. Even if you assume someone would just take out three novels and a DVD each visit, that’s $128.42, and multiplied by 12, that’s $1,541.04 a year.

It adds up quickly and this doesn’t include reading the newspaper, streaming music or many other things you can do at your local branch!

Quick Picks


The X Files: Trust No One Volume 1

This anthology features our favourite FBI agents as they investigate new cases written by many top authors. I usually avoid short stories as they just aren’t as satisfying as a full novel, but these were fun and entertaining. Then again, I’m a diehard fan so your mileage may vary….

Hipster Animals, by Dyna Moe

A very funny satire on many of the hipster subsets complete with illustrations. Despite being animals, you can recognize many of the entries in the field guide like “Still cool Daddy blogger” and “New Wave Pizzaiolo”. The food trucks page alone is worth a look.

You Deserve a Drink, by Mamrie Hart

I was laughing out loud at some of the escapades featured in this book. It’s a good example of what can happen when you drink, but then again, how else do you invent topless crafting, or decide to do Spring Break at a gay nudist resort? Pretty ridiculous.