At $13.99 a month you can rent up to 2 DVDs at once via Netflix.com. For $3.99 you can rent a new release DVD from Blockbuster for about 5 days. Your local neighborhood video rental store charges between one to two dollars a movie depending on how old it is. All of these are practical, inexpensive ways to catch up on cinematic entertainment. That is until you factor in the library.
In the past I'd spend countless hours at Commerce Library working on research papers and getting projects done for college. It's in a great area and I have some old ties to the city so I prefer going there than the one in my hometown. More recently I'd returned to Commerce to catch up on some much needed recreational reading, books ranging from God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens to I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert. Research, recreational reading, all legitimate reasons to be at a library.
Two weeks ago I had two books in hand and was ready to check out when I remembered they had DVDs. Years ago the selection was minimal, with maybe four to five complete sections of titles, mostly old ones that I'd already seen. But as I turned the corner there were rows and rows of semi-new release DVDs and quite a bit of television show seasons. With books in hand I scoured the shelves (meant for books) and quickly nabbed five titles: Quiz Show, Little Miss Sunshine (fuck you, the movie ruled), The Prestige, Lost Highway, and 21. In addition to said DVDs I also picked up Beck's and Metallica's latest albums. I returned a few days later this time skipping the entire library section of the library (the part with books in it) and headed straight to DVDs.
I'll be the first to admit this sounds bad. A library was not meant to be a means of renting movies for nil. In fact, I've felt so guilty that to help combat the stares from elder staff members working the counter I'll pick up a random book to pile onto my order and make it look like I'm at least trying to use the library for its intended purpose. I kept trying to compare it to downloading movies off the Internet for free, but it's not the same. The Internet was intended to support piracy.
Either way I'm not the only asshole doing this. I can't tell you how many times I've had to cough at families for staring too long at the "S" section of DVDs. Shrek is not in yet, it will never be in, stop getting in my way.
Chances are I won't give up this free perk of the library any time soon. I won't even use this economy as an excuse since I could easily afford something like Netflix but chose not to sign up for it. In any case, if any of you want to see The Rookie for free, I know a library where we can get it.