Recently, ALA retweeted a tweet that originally came from @FSG_Books. It was a library haiku that read: A library card / is a 100% off / coupon for great books. This is a misconception throughout libraries everywhere. A library card isn’t a 100% off coupon. A library card is a tool that allows users to take advantage of the services and materials that have already been purchased for them. People who use the library and borrow those books have already paid for them. They’re not free books when the people borrowing them have already paid for them.
Many users believe that the services and materials we provide are free. As all library staff knows, this is a misconception. The services and materials we provide are not free. In fact, they are far from it. Librarians work within a budget and use all money provided to us through taxes, tuition, or other means.
Librarians should be challenging our users’ beliefs about the library every day. Let’s start by challenging the belief that library materials and services are free. When users ask, “Is it free?” or “Is there a charge?”, try responding by saying “No, your (tax dollars/tuition/company’s expenditures) have already paid for it.” I bet you’ll be greeted by confused looks. I think users forget that they’ve already contributed to the library with their taxes or tuition. We can encourage library usage by showing people that they can take advantage of something they’ve already paid for.
By Carrie Straka, TTW Contributor