Libraries have always been quite special places to me. I remember when I was still at school visiting and very often losing track of time when I went to a library. I mean, there are shelves and shelves of wonderful books… ones you know and love, others that turn out to be a pleasant surprise, fiction, non-fiction, old, new, whatever you desire and if you can wangle yourself a little thing called a ‘library card’, you can take some of those books home with you — for free!
Of course, that is the obvious reason to love a library, but off the top of my head, I can think of plenty more:
- Audio books – although I sill love reading to myself, if you have other things you need your eyes and hands for (craft, ironing, driving, exercise etc) it means you can multitask!
- DVDs – I don’t know about your neighbourhood, but all my local video/DVD rental stores are now closed down. I guess people download movies from the internet or buy them as they are now days much more affordable. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather watch a movie before buying it – so borrowing from a library is just my cup of tea!
- Computers – last time I was at my library, I couldn’t believe how many computers there were and they were being used for a vast array of things. A library is a great place to check your email if you are overseas and don’t have free wifi.
- eBooks – I’m still a physical book girl, but eBooks are becoming the thing of the future. I was looking for a title the other day and noticed something else by that author was available for download as an eBook. You still return it when you’re finished, so you don’t keep it for good, but I’ve already decided that will be the way I read my first eBook – borrowed through my library.
- Awesome for kids – there are usually heaps of fun things for kids to see and do in a library, from story time to songs and activities, looking at awesome displays and exhibits or just tapping in to the huge collection of books. I often take my nieces and nephew in to look around – read them a book or two. Probably the best thing is that although the oldest is still under six – they have already borrowed hundreds of books. Although I’m sure their mum would love to buy them every book they wanted, it would be impossible for them to own all the books they have borrowed from the library, they just do not have the room for them all… and if there is a book they take a liking to, it often gets borrowed again and again…. and again!
- Events and activities for adults – they sometime put on great events at the library. I’ve been to a couple of ‘meet the author’ events, they also have book clubs, board games and some have adult education programs and other community group activities.
- Quiet place to get away – there’s normally a few nice quite nooks or lounges to grab a book or magazine and have a read, or a table to do some study. Even though most modern day libraries are not completely quiet with people talking in hushed whispers, they are still usually pretty serene.
- Online resources – even if you can’t physically get yourself down to your library, there are often now so many things available through the library online. I tell you, those librarians don’t just keep up to date with what is happening with books these days – they also know what is great online and they’re pretty darn good at sourcing and sharing fantastic and helpful online content too!
- Free or affordable – I say affordable because if there is a charge, it usually isn’t much, however that being said everything I’ve ever done or used at the library has been free (including all of the above). There are not too many things in life that are free, but your library is one!!
Now, this is where I’m going to have a bit of a gush about my own local library (or libraries as is the case) – the ACT Government Libraries. I have lived in Canberra all my life, so I think I have probably taken them for granted a bit and by that I mean I know they are awesome, but I didn’t realise everywhere else in the country wasn’t enjoying the same super service that I am accustomed to.
You see, my local library is attached to all the other libraries in my city – and this might be so elsewhere, but I have been told by several people now that it’s not usually the case.
When I search the catalogue online and find that the book I want is either not currently available or is located on the other side of the city, I just click a button to request it, and they send me an email when it’s ready at my conveniently located branch to come and pick it up. It sure makes life easy for me, and saves lots of running around. The other great thing about it being a network, is that I can return my item to any of the branches around Canberra – whichever one happens to be the most convenient on the day!
I can’t imagine they would receive a large budget from the government to run the libraries, so I feel that we are blessed with some pretty darn awesome and innovative librarians and library staff. I guess this post is my small way of saying to them – thank you for doing everything you do!