There's something so calming about sitting in a library, in a community space that is focused on respect and silence. I remember finding the act of borrowing a book exciting, it was almost special that it wasn't yours and you would only get to experience it for a small amount of time. Special that others would get to experience it too. But as I grew up it was a habit I lost, in part due to living in a society focused more on possession than sharing, and in part due to it simply not being a popular option anymore.
When sustainability became something I was interested in, I was reminded once more of why libraries are great. We have a lack of resources in the world, why make something new when it can be shared? Do we each need our own copy of a book we will likely only read a handful of times? In most cases only once? I think you'll find that generally the answer is no.
For some reason I was always under the impression that local Hong Kong libraries wouldn't have good english books, so I never went. For zero waste reasons, I settled for the kindle; the books are cheaper, it saves paper, and is a more eco-friendly option. But, as much as I feel clichéd saying it, it just doesn't replace the feeling of holding a real book in your hand, of feeling it's pages, it's smell. In many ways you can create a connection with a book, and the kindle just doesn't provide that experience. For this I would often go to second hand books, either passed down through friends and family or bought at a second hand bookstore. The only problem with this is that I still end up gathering possessions, and re-selling them can be a pain. It's also hard to find specifics when second hand book shopping, which is a pretty big necessity for me as most of what I read are plays, obviously for entertainment but in large part to build up my knowledge in theatre (for those who are new here I am pursuing a career in it).
It just so happened though that the other week whilst Alex and I were out exploring we were close to the Hong Kong Central Library, the biggest public library in Hong Kong, and he suggested we go and take a peep! I ended up finding out that they DO have a great collection of english literature, and a ton of plays!!! It was so fun to browse and borrow books again, and it was super easy to set up an account - you can just use your HKID as a library card. I borrowed 6 plays immediately; the borrowing period is 2 weeks but you can renew online 5 times, which means you can borrow for a maximum of 12 weeks. You can drop it off at the library, but they also have mobile libraries where you can drop off and drop off spots around HK and in MTR's, so it's a pretty efficient system. I still love the idea of sharing the experience of a book with strangers, it feels like a little secret book club, and the process of borrowing a library book in general. They contribute to the community, are safe spaces, and it's free, so if you aren't already showing your local library some love, use this as a gentle reminder to slow down and go and see what kind of little worlds your library has to offer!
Text | Agnese @our simple cottage