Using your public library.

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Forum topic by joshtank posted 03-20-2011 10:51 PM 1746 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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224 posts in 3025 days

03-20-2011 10:51 PM

Topic tags/keywords: library books

Granted, I’ve been a librarian longer than I’ve been a woodworker. And while I see a fair number of posts regarding purchasing this or that book, I haven’t seen much on this board about using the public library. I’m wondering if anyone here has had and positive or negative experiences using the library for getting woodworking books or magazines?

I’m anticipating some responses about your library not having many materials on woodworking. If that’s the case, here’s a solution. Most public libraries in the US make use of an interlibrary loan system. It’s easy enough to have a title or two in mind and ask the librarian at your branch about it. They’ll find the book at the closest public or college library and have it mailed to your local library for check out. I live in Jacksonville, FL. The last book I got this way was from Memphis, and it only took a week.

It’s also a nice way to browse and learn more about a certain disciplines within woodworking, to see if it’s something you’d like to get into, without even having to make a commitment of $20 for a book.

I’m not in any way saying never buy woodworking books. It’s nice to have references on hand, and nice to support the hardworking authors. But this might be a good way for you to see if that next woodworking book is something you’ll really need, or something that will just sit on the shelf and gather the wrong kind of dust.

Besides, we need to save money for tools, right?

-- Josh - Jacksonville, FL -

26 replies so far

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3050 days

#1 posted 03-20-2011 11:20 PM

My only complaint about using the library:

They insist that you return the books :)

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3226 days

#2 posted 03-20-2011 11:31 PM

Libraries are one of the most undervalued and incredible resources in our country !

That said … I haven’t used ours much, for woodworking books … largely because … the USED WW books that I’ve bought … I tend to get fairly dirty, fairly quickly, by using them IN the shop, FOR the projects that I’m working on.

And I wouldn’t treat a library book that way.

That said, if there were particular pages or articles that I needed, I WOULD consider borrowing the library book, and scanning the pages I needed, and then taking THOSE (scanned) pages down to my Lair of Filth :-)

-- -- Neil

View lwllms's profile


555 posts in 3333 days

#3 posted 03-20-2011 11:33 PM


My local library has been a real asset. At times I didn’t even have a title of a book I wanted, just the subject matter. It’s amazing what they’ve found for me. These days, with the Internet, I can give them the title I’m looking for but I also always tell them what information I need because they seem to find more than I can. I just wish they had a subscription to Old English Books On Line. For access to that, I usually need to find someone connected to a university.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3167 days

#4 posted 03-21-2011 12:14 AM

the worldwide library system is one of the most powerfull tool you ever can get your hands on
but as any other tool you have to learn to use it and how to make it sing for you in the scala
you want it takes time to master the librarian´s is only an asistant to you , but what an asistant to have
if you are able to make them understand what you want , but it takes time before they understand
your language =woodworkingtalk with other words the better you are prepared with author , title , etc,
the better

here in Denmark there isn´t many Danish book about woodworking but the local library has been
fantastic to help me when I need a book from England , Germany and US and they allways seems to find
one or two more that cover the subject and many of them was books that I didn´t know excisted

they still call me from time to time to tell they have just found another old book or new :-)
they think might have my interresse

I´m not sure if its for the cake or the interresse of helping me …. little of both I gess …. LOL
yes I have brought bribery to my librarian´s in form of cake from time to time
I can´t see anything wrong to be on good foot with them … :-)

take care

View SouthpawCA's profile


270 posts in 3285 days

#5 posted 03-21-2011 12:14 AM

My wife is an avid library user. I haven’t been in one since college UNTIL I accompanied her one day. I was looking at some of the woodworking magazines (that I already have) when the librarian told me about some woodworking videos they have. OMG!!! I’ve been there now a couple of times a month.

-- Don

View ChuckV's profile


3131 posts in 3579 days

#6 posted 03-21-2011 12:49 AM

Our family is very involved in the local library. It is an amazing resource staffed by some wonderful people who have become good friends. I can use the web site to request books from any library in central Massachusetts. In a few days, I get an email telling that the book is ready to be picked up.

I have used the library for many woodworking books. If there is a book that I am interested in buying, I check it out from the library first to see if it will be worth the money. There are many other woodworking books that I enjoyed reading, but would probably never have bought. I am surprised at the number of woodworking books that are available in the library system. Other times, a book was not in the system, and the library staff would take my recommendation and buy it.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3874 days

#7 posted 03-21-2011 01:27 AM

Josh, I couldn’t agree with you more. When I learned about the local public library’s interlibrary loan program it opened up a whole new literary world for me. I have yet to find a book (provided it has been in print at least 6 months I believe) that is not available via this program. With the book(s) being loaned for a period of one month there is plenty of time to read the material.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View dlmckirdy's profile


199 posts in 3185 days

#8 posted 03-21-2011 02:25 AM

I think I have checked out and read nearly every woodworking book available in California’s San Jouquin Valley Library System. I can search on the internet, request any book, state which library branch I want it sent to, and within a few days receive an email telling me that the book is waiting for me. I check it out for a month, and can usually renew it for a month at a time twice (unless another user has requested it).

I’ve often thought that it would be nice to be able to search and use all the libraries in the country. Joshtank, how do you access libraries outside your local system?

-- Doug, Bakersfield, CA - I measured twice, cut it twice, and it is still too short!

View Camper's profile


232 posts in 2908 days

#9 posted 03-21-2011 02:35 AM

my wife gets me old issues of FWW…I should go with her to take a look at what else they have…

-- Tampa-FL

View Mike Gager's profile

Mike Gager

665 posts in 3319 days

#10 posted 03-21-2011 03:31 AM

yeah i love my library, all kinds of good books

View yooper's profile


216 posts in 2879 days

#11 posted 03-21-2011 04:17 AM

I use the library for woodworking books and magazines a lot. While many of the books are old, they still have a lot of ideas. I think I’ve checked out most of them and photocopied many of the plans or articles that interest me. I can also check out old copies of Fine Woodworking, and again photo copy what I find interesting. I have also used the interlibrary lone to get articles and plans from other woodworking magazines. Having a printer/photocopier at home really helps. Libraries are a great resource and should continue to receive increased funding.

-- Jeff, CT - keep calm and make sawdust

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 2892 days

#12 posted 03-21-2011 04:31 AM

My mom worked at the state library commission for 15 years. She would shoot me if Ididn’t pay a visit to the local library every now and then. Now I work for a local school district. We have 30 or so schools. You wouldn’t believe the wood related books they have. Believe it or not they have hardly been checked out.;)

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2902 days

#13 posted 03-21-2011 04:51 AM

We, too, have a wonderful library, part of county wide system which also interacts with two neighboring county seat libraries. This is an amazing organization, very well managed, which is painfully but effectively adapting to decreasing county revenue just at a time when, the services being free, usage is w a y up.

I know all the staff at our library, and use it often.

I know one employee particularly well. That would be Linda, my wife.

Thanks, Neil, for your quote: “Libraries are one of the most undervalued and incredible resources in our country!”

I can’t resist a couple of stories.

I have donated books to the library. Every now and then books are taken out of the collection—outdated, or not mendable. Twice Linda has said, “Here’s a book you might be interested in,” and it had my name in it.

Linda at one time was the manager of a flower shop and has always had an interest in floral design. The library got in a new book on that subject, and she was eagerly leafing through it when she came upon a double spread of the reception room for Regis Philbin’s daughter’s wedding in New York. That rang a bell. Andy Pfaff, a professional bassist in the NY area, plays a Barker Bass—the instrument I have developed and manufacture and sell—and she recalled he had played that event. There it was, near the center of the picture, way in the background on the equipped but uninhabited stage—Andy’s Barker. We’d never have seen that had she not worked at the library.

-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Bob Pepple's profile

Bob Pepple

9 posts in 3711 days

#14 posted 03-21-2011 06:40 AM

Great advice Josh, thanks for the reminder I will go to the Library and check it out.

-- Bob Pepple, Jacksonville, FL

View Tedstor's profile


1643 posts in 2684 days

#15 posted 03-22-2011 10:36 AM

Thanks for bringing this up.
My PL has 40-50 volumes on woodworking and another 40-50 on power tool use and wood finishing. I discovered a real love for civil war era woodworking while browsing the PL and stumbling upon a book on the subject. Rustic stuff too. I never would have explored those interests otherwise.
And most of the woodworking and trade books I own were first test-driven via library loan.

I never stepped foot in a PL my entire adult life until about two years ago. I was pleasantly surprised to find the numerous products and services they offer me and my entire family. Mostly free. My only disappointment was realizing what I had been missing all these years.

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