My local library service is like a crèche these days, packed full of screaming kids playing on plastic castles, the books scattered around the place they are supposed to be reading, used to build the ramparts, libraries the new Sure Start centers as the Tories close increasing numbers of services for young moms. In poorer areas the libraries have simply become one of very few places that feel safe for young mums as schools are increasingly volatile and the inner-city streets no place for the vulnerable. If we have the kids that need help there and feeling safe we should employ people to help accelerate their reading skills. Middle-class kids mostly perform better in school because parents understand education is everything at a young age and always working with them to help their reading and math’s. Not surprisingly they exploit the library service to its full, a full on coffee morning in some of the more well to do areas of suburbia these days as little Jack and Olivia enjoy the play castle whilst reciting Shakespeare.
Because of the above, libraries are no longer places of peace and quiet and simply about reading or discovering books. A third of the space is now taken up with computers and internet, immigrants staring at alien dialects and written word, often mumbling cyber prayer or listening to freaky rap music whilst the unemployed forced to do compulsory online job search. In Northampton it’s not cheap to surf the web, a pound for their first twenty minutes. You can’t do much in twenty minutes. The jobless are allowed to go onto Universal Job match for free though. If they don’t they can lose their benefit.
The books decrease every year, many sold off every three months to meet the bills. If you try donating books and films to the library service they are very sniffy and only accept the good stuff in good condition. I was unfortunate enough to spoil a library book in my bag with suntan oil and had to pay for a new one. I was expecting to pay the wholesale price the library service would. Not so. They charged me the top end retail price of £12 and a £5 admin fee, the fiver to chip and seal it with a cellophane cover. I was not having any of that. I bought a new one off Amazon and not going to be ripped off. They eventually accepted it after put my case over three days. Don’t put library books and sun cream together. It’s expensive.
The Northampton Central Library has a good range of fiction, biography, kids and research books and two layers to explore them. Its much quieter upstairs in the reference area, computer suits on both levels. The upstairs books are sometimes reference only but a coffee machine and comfortable seating and plenty of tables and photocopiers to get what you need. Upstairs are the hard working intelligent immigrant mature students the Tories and UKIP don’t want to talk about, studying hard to get their degrees and certificates to get on.
As with all libraries the staff are a little bit pompous at times and in no way think they are the library assistants their badges confirm. I wouldn’t say they were patronizing but unless you know your stuff they talk at you as if you have a hearing aid. They don’t do flirting or banter. To be fair they have to be remarkably tolerant and patient for the amount of eccentric and down and out types they get in there. They even tolerate the snowing homeless. As long as they are in the quiet History & Geography Section.
There are a range of things you can do in libraries now as council services are increasingly digitized. You can buy bus passes, pay your council tax or update your electoral role or even post your postal vote there. Post Offices services seem to be heading to the libraries. It will be driving licenses and birth certificates next with stamps sure to follow. Of course, this means older folk coming in, people who love conversation, especially the lonely ones, making all manner of inane chat to pass the day and get their weekly does of contact with other humans. If I’m looking for a book I always engage with them for chat as it may well be their only meaningful one of the week. We will be them someday.
Book fines are steep in Northamptonshire and a result of councils being forced to cut library funding. I defended my corner on damaged goods because for other people that £17 fee is their spare cash for the week. Book fines have shot up to 30p a day and if you are old and forgetful and can’t get into town or to your local library that fee can stack up. When you argue your fines they say they have a fully online service to renew books. But the old are just as intimidated about computers as they are using pavements and buses in the icy winter. 30p is too much.
You can buy things like maps and pencils and attend local author book launches but on the whole as staid as ever. Human staff are becoming rarer as those supermarket automated payment till are now creeping into libraries, the days of the old date stamp long gone. Trying to get them to work properly is as tricky as the one sin Tesco Express.
The smaller libraries tend to be community hubs and have poor ranges of everything, from DVDs to rent to new books. £2.50 per week for a film is very fair though, plenty of new titles in the bigger ranges. I always campaign to bring down the cost but now Blockbusters has gone I have no argument and so they can pretty much charge what they like. But generally libraries remain a place for the unemployed to pass the day and for pensioners to totter around. Now where’s the Dan Brown section..
Libraries have always been a big part of my life and I vividly remember walking to my local library on the estate where I was a child, (probably aged 7 - 10) with my 3 books bundled under my arm, excitedly anticipating what treasures I would be able to find that week!
I was probably the biggest Enid Blyton fan going at the time and think I read all her books over and over again. Imagine my delight when I started the junior school and found that their library had some that I had not read! Oh what joy! I must have read other authors as I have always had a book on the go but Enid Blyton was my all time favourite as a child.
As a teenager my mother got me into Catherine Cookson style books and I think I have read all of hers as well.
Fast forward forty years...(jeez I feel old writing that!) and I am still an avid reader. Whether it be a newsapaper, magazine or a good book. Nothing beats getting lost in a great story.
Being a bit of a tight wad, the library is perfect for me. I don't go looking for any specific titles or authors. I just love having a browse and seeing what takes my fancy. It has been great for my hobby which is growing fruit and veg on my allotment. Lots of informative books which would cost me a fortune if I was to buy! Most hobbies are also catered for. One can find books on cookery, gardening, knitting, crafting.....anything that takes your fancy. A good way to see if something new takes your fancy.
There are also lots of factual books which I can't say I have made use of and I would imagine don't get so much use since the internet coming on the scene.
Libraries offer so much more than just books though!
Having just had a quick look on my library site on the internet, even I was surprised at just how much they offer.
Weekly talks...my local library is doing a talk on Macmillan Cancer information and Support this week.
Reserve an item......cost is 35p
CD hire £1 per week
DVD hire £1.50 per week.
Talking book hire £1 for 3 weeks Not just for the partially sighted or blind. A friend of mine would use these while walking the half hour to work and half hour home every day.
A fax service
PC use with the first half hour being free and £1 for each hour afterwards. (I have made use of this when my internet has been down at home.)
Photocopies ..10p per page for an A4 black and white
Meeting Room hire
Research such as researching your family tree. First half hour free and then £15 per hour with the assistance from an experienced librarian.
Story time for little ones and of course a childrens section.
Many libraries have newspapers available for anyone to read.
I have to say that I am guilty of missing my date for returning books and often build up a small fine but this really shouldn't happen! I get so annoyed when I realise I am overdue! I can log in at home and renew books with the click of a mouse. I just need a more prominent reminder to do this!! lol
Many libraries are having to close to save money so I would say to everyone.......please make use of this very special service or we will lose some, if not many of the branches.
Who knows, you may find a new hobby or a book that could change your life! I really enjoy a browse at my local library and seem to find something new each time I go. It's pure me time.
Thankyou for reading
I am here to defend the local library. Is there any need for the local library? Yes, there definitely is. At every stage of my life so far, I have needed the library.
I have loved books since childhood, and although many of you will laugh at this, a trip to the library as a small child was a treat. I loved going. I loved the quietness, the smell, browsing the shelves and then proudly handing my choice to the librarian, who back in the day always seemed to be an older lady, usually with scant smiles for a small child cluttering up her nice tidy library. I loved choosing something different for my mum to read to me in bed. This went on for many years, through most of the Dick King Smith, and Penelope Lively books. If I could have got away with it, I would have got her to read me Harry Potter too, but when that came out in my 20s, I think that was pushing it a bit!
Then, when I moved away from home to London for the first time, the library was my job seeking paradise. I couldn't afford internet cafes. I couldn't afford much. But I could go to the library and surf the net for hours looking for a new job. And it worked, I found something.
Now, 6 years after first moving to London and in my 30s, I live in a lovely flat. But I don't have room to buy and keep every book I read. I read fairly fast - on average, a book or more a week. I couldn't store that amount of books here. So I order them from the library. Tower Hamlets, although one of the most deprived areas in many respects, has an amazing library network. I have to walk past the library every night on my way home which makes it even more beneficial for me, but the service they offer would make me go out of my way!
The extensive online library is great. I can literally type in the title of a book, it will give me a list of that title and where it is available, along with many other useful details. Everything from a brief synopsis of what the book is about, whether its a hardback or paperback, the size of the book, number of pages and the year of publication. Or if it is an audio book, whether it's a CD or cassette, the running time and how many of said CD or cassette there are. If I order a book online, it is collected at some point from one of the other London libraries in the same consortium, and then I get an email to say when it has arrived at my local library! I then just turn up at the library, present my card and the book is waiting behind the counter. How cool is that? It can take anything from 2 days to 2 months for this though, but as a free service, I am not going to complain!
I cannot fault my local library - Bethnal Green. It is free, convenient, and always seems to be fairly busy. Most of the staff know me as I walk in now, and often recommend to me books that they think I would enjoy based on my previous loans. The only downside is the replacement of people with machines to check in or out your books, I can understand that this is a money saving thing, but for me it takes the personal service out of a trip to the library.
Would I pay for the service? Yes - I would. Maybe £1 per month towards services. So little to an individual, but such a huge amount to the running of the library. I would hate to see the public library disappear. I hope it is there in 10 years time for me to introduce my own children to the amazing world of books.
I cant speak highly enough of my local library (Saltash in Cornwall). There is a definate need for libraries and I think a lot of people would be devestated if they were to loose it.
My library has changed a great deal in recent years including putting in a computerised system which has been met with mixed feelings. Personally I like it, it is quicker to use and you can see everything on your account without having to ask. You can also order books online which is great as if like me you think of a book you want to read, by the time you get to the library you have forgotten what its called !!
My children use the library too as they like to use the computers and there is always courses being held on all sorts of subjects so its a great place to meet new people. Other activities include free health checks, summer holiday activities and antique valuations, so its very varied and for people of all ages.
One Stop Shop
My library has a one stop shop where there is someone on hand to help with council issues like council tax or rent problems.
For people who cannot get to the library, there is a home visit system where the staff bring you and pick up books off your choice which is great for the elderly of disabled. If there is a book you want but its not available at that library, the staff will request it from a different library for you to borrow or may even buy it in if it is not available at any library.
The staff at my library are like friends, they take an interest in you and remember you, its a very personal service and I really enjoy my weekly visits.
Libraries can seem a little old fashioned to some people (especially with the advent of e-books) but the services they provide can be useful for some. Personally I have a thing about borrowing books - I don't like doing it, I prefer to own whatever I'm reading at home, and some would think that makes the library a bit pointless to me but not so.
Libraries are free to join - they put your details onto their system and give you a card, it's a simple as that. At my library I even got to choose whether I wanted a card with a photo of beach huts on or trees.
What services can the library offer?
- Book borrowing: read a book without having to pay out for it (unless your having a book ordered in from another library)
- Buying books: my local library (and I'm sure many others) have a section with books for sale - these may have a loose page, be a bit battered or simply haven't been borrowed for a long time. The plus side is that they're very cheap - for quite some time my library was doing 'fill a bag for £2'.
- Reseach: I was doing a project on the town I lived in and visited the local library on several occassions to make notes from the books and leaflets etc. in their reference section. There are usually a number of tables and chairs placed in the reference section as many of the books are not allowed to be taken out of the library.
- Computers/the internet: most libraries have a small number of computers in that you can book use of. This is handy for those people who don't have one at home.
- Special events: My library recently held an easter egg hunt for children and I'm sure other libraries organise a variety of events such as book readings.
- Order in books: If your library doesn't have a specific book your looking for then there is a good chance they can order it in for you. This does cost a small fee but they can have books delivered to the library from other within the county in a couple of weeks, or up to 6 weeks if they have to get them from a library in another county.
- Small selection of DVD's.
If you go overdrawn with a book ie. don't bring it back in time, you will be charged a fee and this will continue to increase in amount until you return the book. If you find you are getting near to the return date but haven't finished reading the book then you can renew in the library, by the phone and even online.
Unfortunately many people don't seem to be using the services available at their local library and if useage continues to decrease then inevitably the libraries will eventually be forced to close. This will be a great shame and a loss to the community. Many people on low income/budgets rely on the library to provide them with a constant source of reading material at no cost - if the libraries were to go then reading levels would decrease and some could argue the same for literacy rates in some communities.
The library is my current favourite thing, so I felt I just had to write a review and have a little rave about it. After writing my initial review I have come to realise that library services may vary widely between different local councils so would like to point out that my review is based on Sheffield libraries.
I've always been a library member and sporadically gone to my local or the central library to find the odd book to read, however all that changed when I started my maternity leave, was 8 1/2 months pregnant, and had a book to return but no longer worked in the city centre. On looking at the library section on my local council's website what should I find but a local library just a few minutes walk from my house (even that was too much by that stage in my pregnancy and I drove there to return my book).
Since that day I have been a very regular user of my local library, it is a farily small library but seems to have a rotating selection of books, and I normally spot a novel on the shelves that I fancy having a read of. You can borrow about 10 books at a time, for 3 weeks for free, they charge about 10p per day for overdue books, although this can easily be avoided as you can renew the loan at the library, by phone, or online.
Nearly half the space in my library is devoted to an almost enclosed children's section and once my son got on the move we regularly started going to the library so he could have a crawl or run around in a different and fairly safe environment (he has dropped a book on his foot and eaten some blu tack). There are lots of books for all ages of children, some toys and the staff are very friendly and happy to have toddlers running around and eating snacks in their library.
In addition to this once a month there is a 'baby time' this is a couple of hours or stories and singing in a group with a cup of tea and biscuits at half time, they also give out little books as Christmas presents - and this is all free! They do other groups for older children too, and reading / knitting groups etc for adults.
There is a photocopier which costs 5p a sheet to copy and some computers with internet access (having 2 laptops at home and an office job I've never investigated this option).
Don't stop reading yet, there's more great things about the library! Our local council has a really good online service. As well as renewing the books which I mentioned previously, you can search their catalogue and reserve books which you can then arrange to pick up from whichever branch of the library you want to. I was amazed at the range of books that they have and as well as novels have reserved and borrowed lots of books on weaning, baby recipes, parenting and baby yoga among other things. They do not just have the popular, mainstream titles but have lots of alternative titles too, in fact I can't remember searching for a book and not finding it. There is one little niggle here though and it is that when you reserve a book it does seem to take a very long time for it to get picked out and sent over to your branch of the library. Even when a book is not on loan it will generally be a couple of weeks before I get a letter saying its ready for collection, and when I reserved Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol it took a couple of months as so many people were after it. I'm not in any particular rush though so this is fine by me.
I haven't finished yet, there is plenty more gushing I could do (weekly free craft activities at a larger branch of the library, the invitation to the Baby Book Awards, ...) but I do just want to mention one last thing. A couple of months ago I reactivated my subscription with Tesco postal DVD rental (£9 a month for unlimited DVDs posted out to me) but we didn't feel like we were getting our money's worth and were just watching films for the sake of it so decided to cancel. Then I remembered that the library rents DVDs for £1 a week, a quick glance at the shelves might lead you to believe that they only have kids and older films, but I remember seeing Angels and Demons on the stand before Christmas, and a search of the online catalogue revealed 15-20 copies of Inglourious Basterds and District 9 spread across the city. Not so out of date after all, there will be the same issue with reserving items and the amount of time it takes for them to get to the local library but as long as I regularly add items to my reserve list there should always be a new film there for me to watch, as we don't get through more than 4 or 5 a months anyway I'll be saving some money!
One of my favourite things in all the world to do, is curl up in a quiet room and read a good book. It helps me escape, helps me forget my troubles for a while. It encourages my imagination and allows me to become absorbed in a gripping story.
Now in a money making obsessed society, what other hobby would cost me zero. Thats right not a penny. This pastime which I value so greatly does not cost me anything at all. Why? because I use my two local library's and I for one would be lost without this service. This library service which offers the loan of up to fourteen books for a three week period, is a total delight.
The main library in our town does not just provide an aladdins cave of books, it also provides many people with a social outlet. Many people in our community may suffer from loneliness. However the returning of books, encourages them out of their homes and into a social situation.
The two library's in my town offer a full week and weekend timetable of lessons. The subjects of these lessons are extremely varied from gardening to German. learning welsh to learning to surf the net. All tastes and learning needs are catered for. Again these lessons are for free. You get access to the information technology suite, time and expertise of the teacher and a chance to meet people with similar interests to you and it is all offered for free.
In my main library there is a local historian employed. Therefore if there is anything you need to know regarding the history of the town, then she is your girl. There is a vast room where she resides and this room is full to the brim with local history archives. She has the tracking down of a desired article, Down to military precision. This service I have used since being a little girl in school. It has helped me through numerous History projects. I now find myself offering to take my nine year old girl there, as she has a particular fascination with history.
The main section of the library is huge. I would say about the size of a school hall. The building itself used to be the town hall and therefore it has lots of space and character.
The books in the main section of the library are stored in sections. These sections include biography, fiction, non fiction, thrillers, romantic comedy, history, local authors. Infact it would be easier to say that they have books covering all ages and tastes. If they haven't they will strive to get it for you.
I find in my library, that the staff are always welcome to help, They are very efficient and the eager to offer assistance. They have access to a huge stock data base via their computers, they will use this in order to track down a desired book for you. They are as passionate about reading as you can be and this infectious enthusiasm is inspiring.
The children's area of the library, offers a vast array of children's literature from children's books to teen romance. They also have a reading corner where you can read a book to your child. In the school holidays they provide storytelling sessions and activity days again all free of charge. The main thing about this childrens section though is the message it projects. That books and reading can be fun and this is an excellent lifelong message that will hopefully have a large impact on the childs whole perspective on learning and literature.
I do not think that the library services should be stopped, They offer a free un yet invaluable service to the vast majority of the general public. Due to working as a district nurse for quite a few years I have first hand experience of how books can help people within the community. They can provide comfort, provide information, provide a source of escape and something to talk to your friends about.
As far as Jim concerned I think the local libraries are the heart of the community. They provide a service which is far more valuable than the loan of a few books. The service they offer serves all the community from my five year old son up to my 86 year old gran. It is a lifeline and I think that if the service stopped, then we would be a much poorer country for it,
Reading is, for me, the ultimate relaxation; a way to experience extraordinary events and places without leaving the room, and to get to know people I wouldn't meet in the real world. Interesting, mind-expanding and thought-provoking, reading is the one skill I would never want to lose. Vistas and whole new worlds open before me when I open a book, and I frequently bore my husband stupid by browsing through the entirety of our local library picking up books from all kinds of sections and taking ages (so he says) to select those to take home with me. I read quickly so it would just not be feasible to buy the amount of books I get through in one year - let alone, the amount I'll read in my lifetime; I'd be a pauper. Libraries allow people of all ages, and all wallets, to expand their horizons and increase their knowledge without spending a penny. Yep, the best things about our county libraries in the UK is they're FREE!!
I can remember visiting the library, it feels, forever, and I'm really grateful to my parents for removing the library fear that some people seem to have - for us, it was a normal place to visit on a Saturday before or after shopping in town, and to pick up the next exciting adventure or fantasy world to escape into. Now all grown-up (allegedly), I'm a complete bookworm and I don't know what I'd do without our local library (well, libraries in fact because I regularly visit two).
My local library, in Oxfordshire, has to be my favourite yet. For some (marvellous) reason, Oxfordshire county council have decided to let all county members take out up to 20 books each at a time - fantastic! Even I can't read that many in three weeks. Our local library stocks a good range of different subjects, from fiction to autobiographies, crime to travel, how to's to health, history to science - you can even check their stock in advance online to ensure the precise book you want is in stock, and when you join your local library you can, in fact, use any library in your county. The stock across the county is vast, and you can request books held in other branches be sent to your local branch for you if you're not able to/don't want to travel (some libraries charge a small amount for this service).
Nowadays, however, libraries don't stop at merely stocking standard books. There's much, much more on offer in these Aladdin's caves. Our local branch, for instance, has computers where you can use the internet for free, a photocopier, audio and large print books for the visually impaired, 'quick reads' (abridged versions of standard books for those short on time or concentration), DVDs and CDs for hire, language courses and foreign language books, magazines and newspapers, and events such as coffee mornings and storytimes.
Libraries nowadays are easy to use, with extended hours (usually on particular days of the week) and Saturday opening hours. You can renew your books (to keep them longer once your initial three weeks are up) both online and over the phone in addition to in-branch, enabling you to avoid late-book charges without having to physically visit the branch, which is really useful. You can also return items to any branch in the county - not just the one you borrowed it from (very handy for me as I use one branch by my work and one near home). If you can't find something you want, the staff (who always seem to be friendly) are on hand to help you out.
Joining your local library is free and easy - just head on in, and take some proof of your identity (such as a driving licence) and your address (any bill will usually do). And, although calm and relaxing, they're no longer frequented by scary women muttering 'shhhh' incessantly; children are always welcome and don't need to be silent, and there are lots of books for all ages and reading abilities in the children's sections! So what are you waiting for? There's bound to be a local branch near you (there are a mere 43 in Oxfordshire alone), so join up and open yourself to a million new experiences through the written (or audio) word.
After just having returned from one of our regular trips to the library I felt compelled to give my thoughts on the services we receive there and our experiences.
It is only in the last year or so that I have been going to the library regularly and this is because of my two young daughters. The eldest is nearly 3 and the youngest is 1 so they are both at an age where they can enjoy a variety of books and going to the library regularly gives them the opportunity to see and look at books that perhaps they wouldn't if I was always choosing the books for them, this is because I have a hate for certain types of books - noisy ones, stupid stories, etc etc, but here they can choose their own and I know that I can take them back and get rid after 3 weeks.
Our 'local' library is quite a trek from our house so it usually takes us about 30 minutes to get there, and obviously 30 minutes, or longer, to get home. So a trip to the library usually takes up to half a day, but my eldest daughter loves it and gets so excited when I tell her we are going, so it's always a fun occasion and something to look forward to.
The library is quite small, it's more like a village library, but it has an excellent children's section. The children's section consists of many many books which are on low level shelves so they are within easy reach for toddlers and babies. There are also small chairs for the kids, bean bags for the babies, lots of toys for all ages, and the walls are decorated with children's pictures and lots of bright colours.
When we arrive, my daughter runs in, chooses a couple of books, settles herself on a chair and starts 'reading' to herself. I can feel safe that she will be happy there for 30 minutes to an hour just picking and choosing her books and looking through them.
My youngest daughter however, spends most of her time crawling under tables and hiding from me, or slinging books off shelves (perhaps the low level shelves are not such a good idea...). She does occasionally find a book that takes her fancy and will sit and look at it for a couple of minutes, but more often than not she just causes havoc. But because my eldest is so settled and happy looking at the books, it gives me a chance to keep my eye on the baby and sit and look at some books with her. So it's a good situation for all involved.
Sometimes when we are there, if it's not busy, one of the librarians will come and sit with my daughter and talk to her about the books she is looking at, and will read to her and suggest books she might like. The people who work there are really friendly and turn a blind eye when the kids are being noisy, they don't make you feel guilty if your baby is crying, or if your toddler is being irritable. They really are lovely and it's a really welcoming place to be.
This morning for instance, I went with my friend who also has two young girls, similar ages to mine. Her youngest is only 4 months, and this morning was feeling pretty grumpy, and spent perhaps 10 minutes screaming her head off. The librarians were very sympathetic and unfazed by this screaming child, which I think is just brilliant, because even if you are in a shop and your baby is screaming some people will stare at you as if you are a terrible mother, but all we got from the people in the library were sympathetic glances with no awkwardness at all.
It really is a child friendly library, and really encourages you to bring your children from a young age to get them interested in books early on.
My daughter has her own library card and you are allowed to take out 20 books at once (a little bit extravagant I know but I do get my youngest daughter's books with this card as well, but we never hit 20). You can have the books for 3 weeks, but if you are late returning them, you don't get a fine, this is excellent because I have often returned books late (when they have gone missing at home and turn up 2 weeks later). If you return books late on your adult library card you get a £1 fine for each book, so no fines on kids books is a real bonus.
The books we have taken out have been in varying degrees of condition. Sometimes they are brand new, and sometimes they are falling apart at the seams. If they are Pop-ups or Lift-the flaps then there sometimes may be a flap missing, or something is torn, but this has never really affected how my daughters enjoy the books. I think once the books get to a certain stage the library either throws them away, or sells them. I have seen books in there on sale for as little as 10p.
I really think taking children to a library is a beneficial experience, for both the children and the adults. I'm so glad that I have discovered this while my kids are still young because I think these days libraries are often forgotten about, mainly because you can buy cheap books from supermarkets or discount book stores, and people probably think that libraries aren't really 'needed' anymore because books are so readily available to buy. Also people don't have as much time as they used to, many parents work so don't get the chance to do things like this with their children.
Since I've been taking my kids to this library, they've been introduced to such a wide variety of books that just would not be possible to recreate in our home 'library'. And for them it's like walking into a treasure trove, the books come in all different shapes and sizes and there's always something there that will take their fancy. They usually pick up books that I wouldn't touch with a barge pole, but again this is beneficial to them because they are actually getting to look at books that they wouldn't do if we didn't go there (because I wouldn't be buying them!!)
It gives me a chance to see what they like to look at without me forcing a certain type of book on them, and gives them chance to express themselves with the act of choosing their own books to take home.
This library not only lets us borrow books, it also has a small children's DVD collection. They charge you a £1 for 1 DVD and you can only have it for a week, so we don't often do this, but I have borrowed on a couple of times, and it's nice to see if your child likes a particular style of film or kid's programme without having to pay for a new DVD.
They also have little game packs which you can also borrow for 3 weeks. They come in a little rucksack type bag and in them they usually have a book, then a varying number of games to coincide with this book. Sometimes the games involve counting, learning colours, jigsaws, or short dice games. They are all very simple tasks, but it's an interesting way of getting your child involved with a book and helping them learn basic skills.
The library that we visit also has a 'Story-Time' for preschoolers, which is every fortnight during term time. We have tried to attend this session regularly, but have found that it is not very popular, for what reason I don't know. But on speaking to the librarian recently, they have recently decided to stop doing the story time because of the low interest from customers. This upsets me because it just shows that people are not using this resource when it's an excellent service, and more to the point, it's free!! If more people used their libraries then they could probably offer even more services and they wouldn't have to stop doing things such as story time, and deprive the people who do want to use their resources.
So all in all, libraries are a valuable resource for children and parents. I love taking my children there and they love it too. I urge you if you have young children, and haven't yet taken them to the library, to try and visit your local library and see what their children's sections are like, and start using them. I cannot recommend them highly enough and will be a library customer for many years to come.
I've been going to our library since my time at primary school. I can't remember how often our Mum would take us but at the end of the day she'd walk us along, on a 3 minute journey, where my favourite books to take out were Asterix & Oblix, Hairy Maclary From Donaldson's Dairy and anything by Roald Dahl. No one else in my family has such a passion for book reading so maybe I'm just the odd one out in that sense.
Recently in watching our local news I've noticed a reoccurring theme of libraries in the South West which are being closed down. A worrying thought for myself as I am not somebody to go and buy a book without having a good knowledge as to whether I'm going to like it. Not having to pay for the actual book but still being able to read it is a very good thing in my eyes. Although despite the way our local one has been modernized with it's internet access and cds, games and dvds you can still receive sneering looks from people at the thought that you might like to spend time in them.
Nowadays you can take out 16 books on an adult card, not that I've ever done this, and can have 3 weeks to read them with added extras if you choose to renew them online or by phoning. You can also see online if they have the book you want and if they do then you can reserve it. It's not all free though, you do have to spend a staggering 50p if you are joining the library aged 18+. Or in my case which happens quite frequently, the loosing of your card and having to get another one.
You can get all sorts of people in there. From the very old to the very young. Every Wednesday they have a toddler group in the mornings. Nursery Rhymes, songs and story telling all to be expected. Along with occasional crying sessions and pleadings of adults trying to get someone to not run and to be quiet. It's safe to say that you don't see as many people coming in through the doors at that point.
There are also book readings from authors on Monday and Thursday evenings. All of which are advertised at the front desk and coffee mornings on Fridays where they grab a table and a tea urn. Generally the number of people who circulate in that corner of the library are from the older generation but they all seem to know each other. Always ready to have a natter. There are other libraries which do this as well although not, in my opinion, as successfully. Bristol Central Library is in a listed building which is over 100 years old. I went in their quite recently and they've wacked this horrid looking café slap bang in the middle of it. Not to my liking at all!
You have the internet connection which is very handy when the bottom row of the letters on your keyboard decide to not work and then the multi media items which you can also borrow but you have to pay an extra 80p on top. The only problem I have with the library is that because ours isn't a massive one the choice of books can be a bit limited at times. Going in there as regularly as I do you begin to notice that quite a few of them don't seem to leave the shelves. Also series. They'll have the 1st, 2nd and maybe 3rd of a sequel but they refuse to stock the finale.
I hope that the fact that ours has a primary school next to it will prove as an advantage to it not being closed. I know I much prefer the feel of a book which has clearly had several readings than a screen.
My parents house was so full of books that my mother complained that it resembled a library. They both enjoyed books , but as far as I know were not even members of the local library. I just haven't got the space in our rather crowded abode, I've now got just two smallish bookcases, and thats it. I like to think I've got better things to do than extra dusting, I'm hoping so anyway, so I've made a decision not to buy any books at all, ever again, and to borrow them from the library, free, instead. I try not to look at books in shops, or even second hand shops or bookshops, I've almost but not quite managed this.
I have always liked libraries. As a child my dad used to take me there on the bus (probably he joined temporarily just for me and my brother) and it was there I discovered the joy of my then favourite books the Richmal Crompton "William" series, I read them all despite being a girl! My girls definitely had no interest in them, but I think that was because times had moved on.
Anyway wherever I've lived I've always been a member of the local library. Because I like libraries. Libraries have ofcourse changed. When I was a teenager I never used to pay a library fine. This was only because in Aberystwyth where we we then lived they never seemed to notice how long you kept the books for. But from my point of view times have changed for the worse in this respect, you now have to pay a fine if you are a couple of days late, I'm surprised they still allow me in to our local library, except for the fact that I have helped to finance some new books for them. Anyway I am now hopefully reformed from this, you can ring to renew books, or do it online now, they will issue you with a pin number.
Although I like the library I get the feeling it probably is underused. In our family my husband never goes, and my two grown up daughters don't go either. I suppose one reason could be that if you are working the opening times might be a bit inconvenient, but our local library does have limited evening opening. And its very easy to join, and accessible.
Nowadays libraries have lots of facilities .There is computer access , or you can borrow CD's or DVDs, or talking books. In my local library the books all seem reasonably new and in good clean condition.There is wheelchair access and a lift.There is a photocopier , and they sometimes run talks by authors of interest. You can browse through the newspapers .There are posters and leaflets. Upstairs there is the childrens section open from babyhood onwards,no fines for overdue books here. There is a weekly storytime for the very young,For older children there are craft afternoons in the holidays, these seem to be attended by a small but keen group of children. There are also reading schemes and competitions. All free. Last time I was upstairs there was a group of older boys playing computer games. Younger children can sit and colour.
To me the library is all about books, a treasurehouse in fact , somewhere to go where you can gain entrance to other worlds, you can go where you want to go. At the moment I am reading a book on Faberges eggs, I picked it up at random , personally I find it very interesting. One downside of the library I find is that I would like a larger selection of books , eg if you enjoy a particular author it might not be possible to obtain all his or her books in the library, but if you particularly request a book the staff may well be able to obtain it for you.
I hope we don't lose one of our precious resources, our libraries, for even in this age of computers, I believe they still have an important part to play.
Libraries I find are great places to spend time in. Just being surrounded by all those books-amazing.
There are so many activities going on in libraries and they can be fun places to be in.
Thinking of my local library there are so many things going on such as Baby Bounce and Rhyme Time for the little ones which looks fun and a wonderful place to meet other young parents.I wish when my two girls were that age I had somewhere like this to go to and to take part.
Also for older children on Saturdays there are craft sessions which always look fun.
Then the library has a thriving Book Club where they discuss a book a month which always seem to be popular.This again is very good to meet people that are on there own or if you have just moved into the area.
The library even have now started to have a knitting Group which meets once a month so next month I will be going along with my knitting needles.
Also they have someone who comes in to help with any problems people may have in using computers
So libraries are starting to move with the times and it is not only to do with books.You can borrow Spoken Word and Music CDs, Dvds as well.
Also they sell merchandise too ,in my local library they have a glass cabinet with small gifts which seem to be very popular when it is Chrismas time.
The libraries also encourage schools to come into the library for Book Exchanges and I understand from a teacher that the librarians arrange book collections on various topics which they can use in the classroom.So libraries do have a great part to play in todays society and everyone should be encouraged to support their local library and they are free.
Libraries - they are for me one of the best things available free of charge!!!
When I were lad, my nan used to take me to the library every other wednesday after school. We would get as all the books we wanted then she would take us over to the little shop on the corner and we could buy a chocolate bar to eat after tea that night. This instilled in me a love of books and libraries, here was a world of books in which you could take them out for NOTHING!!!
But that was then, what about libraries in the tough world of the 21st century?
Well I'm a member of a local library in Sheffield, its open every day except Wednesday and Sunday and stays open till 8 on Thursday and Friday. The library is clean, well run and has not only well stocked set of shelves but also computers, dvd's, CD's, large print novels and a extensive child section. The libraries shelves are split into audio books, new, family, romance, general, crime, sci-fi/fan, supernatural, British history, history, geography, biographies, sport, local, paperbacks, reference, papers, journals, poetry and probably a few others but you get the idea that its extensive.
And the other great thing Sheffield runs a very easy to use ordering system online in which you type in an author, or field and it gives a big list of books on that search. You can then order online and it costs nothing, you get a letter in the post or it will inform you online if a book is there for collection. You can renew your books online as well, as well as by phone.
So what are the negatives? Well you have to look after them obviously they after all aren't yours. You have to return them on time but as I said you can renew online or by phone and the charges aren't exactly onerous 10p a day per book at my library.
I've been taking books out more and more lately compared with buying, I realised I was accumulating book shelves of books I would read once then never touch again. Libraries give me the chance to read the books then return them, if you find an author you like you can find him in the book shop and buy the new book when it comes out if so inclined.
I can't see any negatives about libraries except the need to return your books or if you manage to lose or damage one but even then they jsut ask you to pay for a new version of the book.
So please use your library because if we stop going they will be closed in the next round of penny pinching by your council.
I've always been an avid reader and have been a member of a local library for most of my life. Growing up in a rural village, I looked forward to the mobile library service visiting once a fortnight and I used to walk away with a carrier bag stuffed full of books. Now, as a mother of two, visiting the library is still very much part of my regular routine and both of my boys share my love of reading and, consequently, the local library.
Given the current financial climate, I'm surprised that more people don't appear to take advantage of a public service that, at its simplest, offers access to thousands of books for absolutely no cost! You're not limited to the books available in your local library as books can be ordered in from other libraries, if necessary, for a small charge. Our library charges 50p per book for inter-library loans. There is no limit to the number of books that can be borrowed from the library and, if three weeks isn't enough time for you to finish them, they can even be renewed by telephone or online so there really should be no need to pay any overdue fines, which sometimes puts me off borrowing books!
There's no reason why the internet needs to sound the end for our libraries either. Although we've got instant access to all this information via our home computers, nothing beats the feel of a real book in your hand, to me. Libraries have embraced technology too and offer free internet access to members of the public. I took full advantage of this service when my own PC died on me a few months ago and it was a real lifesaver. I do think the internet facilities and library service in general should be publicised more as I'm sure that many people just think of it as an old-fashioned place full of musty old books and don't realise how much more they have to offer.
Every Monday, I go to 'Baby Bounce & Rhyme' with my two year old. This is an activity for pre-school children which involves listening to a story and singing nursery rhymes, helping to lay some of the foundations for skills the children will develop at school. There are other activities available including a similar story and craft-based session later in the week. Whilst on maternity leave, I attended a six week course in Baby Signing at the library, which was totally free of charge - I dread to think how much I would have paid for a similar programme in the private sector! Recently, I've even noticed that they have been holding Baby Yoga sessions at the library too! All of these are totally free and provide a great facility for parents and young children. It's just a shame that these aren't more widely publicised. I only know that most of these services are available because I'm already a regular visitor to the library. Libraries really need to target those families and individuals that aren't already using the service.
As well as the singing group, we always come home with a selection of books for my two year old's bedtime story. There is no charge for late returns on a child's card - which is ideal for chaotic and forgetful Mums like myself! There are also no charges for any damages to any books loaned to under-fives so it gives us an opportunity to 'toddler-test' some of the more elaborate lift-the-flap stories at home, without wasting good money on them! Older children aren't neglected either. During the Summer holidays, our local library runs a 'reading challenge.' This is a very simple, low-cost activity for them to promote regular reading amongst children and they give out stickers and a 'gold medal' to children who read a certain number of books during the holidays. My six year old is very excited about the prospect of receiving a 'gold medal' - what it is to be six - and it helps to keep his reading skills fresh during the long break from school.
Yesterday, we all picked up a new selection of books and I also chose two audiobooks for the kids - perfect for a long trip in the car when we go on our holiday next week. Again, this is a service that would benefit from wider promotion as, despite being a regular library visitor, I wasn't sure whether that particular service was free or not. (It is free, I discovered, for loans on a child's card.) The library also loans out a selection of DVDs although charges aren't made totally clear. (I know there is a small charge to rent them but I'm now wondering whether it might be free to hire them on a child's card too.) I'll have to ask the very helpful staff on my next visit.
I hope that other people continue to make good use of our library service. Times are hard and money is tight and I would hate to see library services to be targetted either locally or nationally as part of cost-cutting measures. If they aren't being used, then councils have got the justification to close services down and that would be a huge loss to the community. Thankfully, our library does appear to be well-used. There's been queues at the counter every time I've visited recently and the baby groups are always well attended. I just feel that library services themselves need to promote their services and facilities more widely to make sure they reach as many people as possible. Libraries should be there for the masses, not just the few!
Public libraries are a lot like Woolworths, in that a lot of people profess to love them, but the sales/visitor figures would seem to suggest that these same individuals maybe aren't patronising their local library. So, to borrow the Woolies allusion one last time, use them or lose them!
As a professional librarian I am aware of the love of the British public for a good public library, but honestly didn't realise the strength of affection for the 'brand' until I entered the profession. On a standard Library and Information Studies course these days a good 50% of the modules are directly related to the management and running of this sort of service. I choose to view this as something other than a shallow attempt to keep ourselves in jobs and that it points out again the importance of libraries to us all.
It's very easy to become polarised between loving and hating your local library as they are somewhat like people and come in all shapes and forms. My first job after graduating from a course in library studies was in a public library and it was truly awful! Boring, dusty books, a general lack of imagination and jobsworth staff whose time was monopolised by the same familiar faces day in, day out.
This was enough to put me off libraries for some time and it was with trepidation that I decided to take a chance and join my local library after relocating to the South.
My new library (Bromley) is a wonderful, vibrant space, with a well-maintained collection of new-ish books, great Internet provision for those that need it and cheerful, chirpy staff. In fact, they can sometimes be too helpful when you're trying to browse and this is my one minor gripe with the service offered.
My point is that the word 'library' covers a multitude of evils in our collective consciousness, from the lonely spaces where you don't feel at ease, to the bright modern facilities offered by a good library.
While I acknowledge that the oness is on us as professionals to keep our services fresh and relevant to our users, locals need to dip their toe in the water and visit if they want their libraries to remain truly public. As government tries to curb spending during a recession, the pot for public libraries is definitely not getting any bigger and librarians will have to become ever more creative in keeping their services up to date.
So join your local library, take advantage of their free services and try and support them by buying an old book, booking a class, or renting your DVD there instead of the local rental chain. After all, they're there for you.
Great services available at many local libraries:
Lots and lots of free books (to borrow)
Free Internet access with reasonably priced printing and the like
Music loan and rental
Book groups (it's good to talk)
Classes and IT training
Local history help
Assistance with family history research