If you hadn’t noticed, I read. A lot. I stopped buying books for the most part back in 2004, because it was getting expensive. I still buy the occasional one when I travel as souvenirs but other then Harry Potter and the previous Kristin Gore book, I haven’t bought a book since 2007. When I arrived in New Zealand, I brought 5 books with me and finished reading them within the first 2 weeks which I swapped for other books at the local used book store and various backpackers I snuck into. While I was waiting for jobs to come through when I was in Auckland, I spent lots of time reading books, sitting in the Central Library. In fact, when the temp agency called me to tell me I got my favorite job ever, I was in the library and ran out immediatly to take the call. When I figured out I was going to live in Auckland long term, I immediatly looked into getting a library card. I liked the quality of the books the libary held and I was anxious to not have to be in the building to read them. It looks like things have changed a lot since I lived there but here is what I had to do:
Since I wasn’t in school and I didn’t have a permenent address, I had to get a temporary subscription to check out books. I had to get a note from my boarding house saying that I would live there for at least 4 weeks, my passport with my visa and I had to pay a NZ$70 bond, $40 of which I would get back on proof of my receipt when I left the country and I was limited to 5 books at a time. I felt that was a decent ask. The Auckland library charged for EVERYTHING. Want to put something on reserve? Cost. Overdue? Cost. The reserve thing was probably the worst thing, if I lived there forever. I didn’t mind it too much as I could only check out 5 things at once, and rarely made it past the recently returned shelves in the front of the library when searching for new things to check out. Since I read so much, I had a weird system going on. I would actually only check out 3 books at a time and when I would get down to my last book, drop off two and pick up two. They also had automatic check out, which was awesome, so I never even had to talk to anyone. A few times, I wanted to check out more then 5 books, so I would go to the counter and the librarian would override the system so I could check out more. It was New Zealand after all, no one cared. I loved the selection of books that the library held. It held American titles that I had been wanting to read, British books that were titled different in the US and Australia and New Zealand titles that I had never heard of and you can’t even buy in the US! The variety was awesome.
Love it! Being a total nerd, I kept track of every book I read, title and date read, so I could do the math at the end of my year and see how much I got “charged” per book. When my visa was extended and I went to the library to get my account extended, I think they were supposed to charge me another $30 for another year, but they didn’t and just extended my cancel date. After living in Auckland for 16 months, I read over 160 books, which is about 3 books a week and ends up being about 5cents a book. I feel like I got my moneys worth. When I brought my receipt back for my refund, the girl at the counter didn’t know what to do, since she had only done it once before. No one saves the receipt and they won’t give you your money back without one. But cheapskate me, I held on to that sucker and kept it in my important documents bag.
Moral: I quite enjoyed my time with the Auckland library. Since I read so much, I didn’t care too much about what I read. I mean, I had some choice in the matter, but I couldn’t request anything without getting charged, so I was pretty much stuck reading whatever they had. At least it was a huge selection. I loved browsing the recently returned section and picking out what to read for the week.