On Tuesday I went to the library to return House of Seven Gables, and learned that I can't renew my library card unless I pay a $50 fee. This is because the Jefferson County Commission cut the library budget in half, and now people who don't live in Jefferson county have to pay a fee. News on the situation here.
I lived in Jefferson county my whole life until 3 years ago, and by that time I was kind of hooked on their library system. It's really good. I live in Shelby county now. The library system here is not so good. After my initial devastation at the fee and leaving dejectedly from the library, I went home and did a Pepsi challenge on the Shelby county system, side by side with the Jefferson county system. I had a list of 10 or 12 books I was going to look for at the library, and I searched them all on both systems. Jefferson county had all of them in circulation. Shelby had about half. Among the books that Shelby county didn't have was The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. Philip K. Dick, people!
As a result, I have nothing to read right now. I'll be getting a library card at Shelby county this week, and they do have at least half of the books I'm interested in. But eventually, I know I'm just going to break down and pay the fee.
And look, I love you guys. But I know one of you is going to say "why would you do that?" while gesturing in righteously angry ways. Look, it's not like I'm not angry. But when it comes down to it, it's much cheaper than buying books, which is kind of my only other option here. It's also much less money than I spend on subscription services like Netflix. And let's face it, it only makes me angry because I'm used to checking out books for free.
Which is the thing that makes me angriest of all. You get something for free, and you just think it's always going to be there. Communities need things, and that's why you have to pay your taxes, kiddies. Libraries. Public schools. The police force. Parks. Sidewalks. Paved roads. I don't care how "taxed enough, already" you feel, at some point there's something that your taxes pay for that you wouldn't want to do without. The minute that it's not free, we all get angry and wonder where it went.
I can walk into Jefferson county from where I live. It's not close enough, so I'll pay the damn fee for the superior catalog.