I just saved $28.99 today! No, I didn’t rack up a $700 bill at Food Lion to get my “savings.” I borrowed a book from Harper Library, and the receipt they handed me said I saved $28.99 today, and during last year, I saved a total of $359.75.

How is that? Well, of course, actually buying the book would have cost me $28.99 (plus tax). And last year, all the great books of learning, adventure, and fun I borrowed from the library cost me … well, nothing (instead of $360)!

This amazing information is now available to us patrons because Heather Donnell, the library’s sharp-eyed branch manager, noticed this feature on a receipt in a book from another library, and she found out how they did it. It’s a free new add-on provided by the software the library already owns.

Since our library is saving us all this money, it seems reasonable that we should show our appreciation by donating a small percentage of it to the Friends of the Library so they can continue to provide the books, DVDs, programs, and services that are outside Barbee and Harper Libraries’ budget.

Here’s a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation of how that would play out.

Last year between the two libraries, a total of 200,000 items were circulated. Let’s assume they were purchased at an average cost of $22 per item. That would be $4.4 million. Now let’s assume that each patron donated, say, 4% of the cost of the items they borrowed. That would amount to an additional $176,000 that the libraries could have to spend on 8,000 new items.

But don’t get hung up on fact-checking the math; you get the idea. Now, get the books, get the savings, and then get the satisfaction of giving back to your libraries!