“ Address: The Wharf / Newbury / RG14 5AU / Berkshire / England „
As you can probably tell from the amount of book reviews I have been putting on Dooyoo as of late, I am most certainly a big fan of the library system we have in England. I think its terrible that library usage seems to be on the decline, and that a lot of people these days don't even have a library card. It's shocking, and unless we keep using resources such as our libraries, they won't be there for us anymore then we'll all realise what we're missing!
Anyway back to my review lol. I live in Newbury, and we are lucky enough to have a lovely big library just outside the town centre and I decided to join both Harry and myself up as soon as we were settled in our first home. Signing up was an easy process; I just had to take along proof of my identity (my passport) and proof of my current address (bank statement, utility bill etc) and a new card was issued to me there and then. Harry's card was also done and linked to my account, and all under-16's have to have their library card signed by their parents. So I was instantly ready to go and decided to have a good old nose around.
The lower floor is vast, and boasts many rows of books, a dedicated children's area, many computer terminals for the public to access the internet, and help desks. Walking into the library, you are met by the main desk which is where you return any borrowed items before you continue on into the library. The first blocks of shelves are adult fiction books in alphabetical order, although the shelf order is a little odd to me and I get a tad confused every now and then...maybe that's just me though!
Towards the back of the ground floor is the Children's area which looks very inviting to babies, toddlers and older children! There are several lower bookcases stuffed to the brim with book, plenty of seats for parents and children, soft bean-bag type things on the floor, and a few taller shelves of books. The area is well maintained and well stocked with books, and Harry and I do love to sit and slowly choose his books because of the brightness of the area. It helps that there are lovely big windows alongside this area which opens the building up to having plenty of sunshine! Near the children's book area, you can also find parenting advice books which I think is a good idea as you can browse these books while your child looks for their books!
There are also several computer terminals on the lower floor of the building which are to be used by the public and have free internet access. You just have to book a computer at the help desk and then you are free to use the system. You can print things from the Internet but this costs 10p per black and white A4 sheet (With your first 5 sheets free), and £1 per coloured printed A4 sheet. Whenever I visit the library, there are always a couple of terminals free so I'd easily be able to get one if I needed to!
The library also has a first floor as well, which is accessed either by a staircase near the entrance, or a small lift alongside the stairs. The lift is only big enough for one pushchair/wheelchair at a time so sometimes there is a few minutes to wait but that doesn't usually bother me. On the first floor, there are more computer terminals, and mainly non-fiction material. You can find biographies, sports, history, geography, and pretty much any other school subject on this floor. Again there is a helpdesk if you were to need any help, and there are some nice seating areas with magazines and local newspapers provided if you fancy a quiet sit down.
In terms of what is offered by the library, I am very impressed. There is a vast array of fiction already available in the library, but if a particular book you want isn't there, you can reserve it...this is my favourite function of the library EVER lol. There are 2 ways of doing this. You can either ask the help desk to see if they have the book, and if not they can reserve it for you to pick up at the library of your choice (choose from all 10 libraries in the West Berkshire region). Or if you're more independent like me, you can use the online library catalogue called Spydus. A link to this is provided on the council website, and you need your library card barcode and pin-code given to you when you sign up. From there you can see all the books you have out, reserve new titles, renew existing loans and change your details. It's totally free to use and free to reserve books too, so for me, its an invaluable service. You are notified when a book is ready for collection either by a telephone call or like me, an email.
In terms of charges, I don't find the library too bad either. All books are free to take away from the library, as are magazines and CD ROMs. Other items such as DVDs, computer games and music CDs all have their own charges priced for a weeks loan but this varies from £1 to £4 per week according to the item. For books, you are allowed to loan them for 3 weeks from the date you checked them out, then they have to be returned to the library, unless you renew them online, in the library or over the phone. If you are late returning books, you are charged 18p per day for adult books and 8p per day for childrens books, so its worth making sure they are returned in time. You're allowed to borrow up to 15 books at a time, but unless you're a madly fast reader, I wouldn't take all you are allowed!
The library is open 6 days a week, from 9am-7pm on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 9am-5pm on Wednesday and Friday and 9am-4pm on Saturdays. The library is closed on bank holidays, Christmas and Boxing Days and New Years Day also. Because of the nice long opening hours, I have never found the library to be unbearably busy, and I don't often have to queue when I go in to return my books. On the few occasions that there is a long queue, they quickly try to get another staff member onto the desk to speed it up which I think is very good service. In terms of facilities, there is a baby change area and a disabled toilet, but I haven't noticed any public toilets there.
The library, as I mentioned, is just outside of town, barely a few minutes walk actually, and I think is perfectly situated on what is called The Wharf. There is a car park next to it which you do have to pay for, although the disabled spaces are free of charge. The building itself is very attractive, all dark wood with enormous glass windows so its a modern buildings which sits in well with its surroundings. The park is just over the bridge, and often the library will have readings and childrens groups in the park which is a nice touch, especially in the summertime.
Don't just think your library is for books. Newbury library has its own book group, which you can follow online, send your reviews in to the library and you can attend the group meetings as well. I haven't done this myself but apparently the group is popular. Also, they offer a few children's activities such as the SUmmer Read during the summer holidays to get children reading, and during term time, they offer "Rhyme Time" for babies and toddlers aged 0-3 years old, which is library staff reading and singing songs, joined by parents and children who are encouraged to join in. The dates change monthly, so check them out on the website, or in the library. There is also storytime aimed at 3-5 year olds with their parents. So there is plenty to do for children too!
As you can probably tell, I really love my local library and I use it now more than ever! They always manage to get the latest books in usually within 10 days of it being released, and also have a great selection of older books too, as well as plenty of non-fiction material. The reserve service is fantastic, collecting books from all West Berkshire libraries to be collected wherever you need them. The library itself is well situated with the park and town a mere 2 minute walk away, and with good parking facilities too. It is big, airy and spacious, and very modern too which I like. There are plenty of services available for all ages, the staff are friendly and very helpful, and most of all, its free. I will definitely continue using my library, and I hope you all use your local libraries too, they're invaluable!
Newbury Library is operated by West Berkshire Council. Address: The Wharf, Newbury, Berkshire, RG14 5AU. Telephone: 01635 519900. More information can be found on the WBC website at www.westberks.gov.uk.
Thank you for reading!