Using the library is something that I’ve done in cycles, on and off, throughout my life.
When I was young, I would visit the library as often as possible, until our local branch was sold off to become a private nursery.
I didn’t become a library regular again until my early twenties. For 18 months, while I studied for an MA and then completed a fellowship project, I would walk to the nearest library two or three times a week in all weathers, headphones in, and borrow huge piles of books. The workload on my course wasn’t too overwhelming, so I had plenty of free time to read.
I remember that time in my life especially fondly.
But once I started work, I didn’t have much time for the library and only borrowed odd books over the years.
Recently, I’ve been making more of an effort to explore what my local library has to offer. Here a few reasons you should too:
- You can read as much as you like, for free.
- The staff at the library will most likely be book lovers, who will be more than happy to recommend great things to read.
- Authors receive a fee when their books are borrowed from the library – this is called the public lending right, although it is only active in some countries, including the UK, Canada and Australia. So even though you’re not buying the books, you’re still supporting the writing community.
- Thanks to budget cutbacks within local government, library services are declining. Use them while you still can.
- Many libraries offer e-books for download via apps such as OverDrive.
- Libraries are often hubs for the local community and they have other events and meetings, including book clubs, happening on the premises.
- You don’t just have access to the books in your local library, but also those in the wider town or area, which you can request to be delivered to your nearest branch.
- You can discover all kinds of things about other people’s reading habits by noticing how often certain books are borrowed, or reading the notes other people have made in the margins.
- Libraries are great places to introduce children to books. How many heavy readers have fond memories of wandering the aisles as a child, or discovering that their library card allowed them access to huge stacks of books?
- They open up a whole world of knowledge and imagination, just like books do. Any place dedicated to the wonder of books is a good thing, in my opinion.
Are you a regular library user? What are the best things about your local library and what services would you like to see there in the future?