I don’t know about you, but I love my local library. I don’t have a massive book budget to fill my shelves with every book that I’ve ever wanted to read, but lucky for me, my library seemingly does (I’ll admit, I don’t know the extent of their budget, but they buy me five books a month, so it’s larger than mine). Though there are a lot of people who use the library, I feel like there aren’t enough. Maybe it’s my divine purpose on this planet to make people realise what a good thing we’ve got, so here you have my top ten epic features of public libraries.
Of course, books are my first reason. The amount of books you can loan will depend on your library, and the length will too. My local library allows thirty books for thirty days. Yes, I often max that out and hit the renew button like it’s a lifesaver, but if you’ve got better time management than me and you can read a book a day, the library will hook you up with 360 books a year. My Goodreads history will tell you that’s more than I’ve ever read, so you’ll be set if you want to really challenge yourself.
If you’re one of those folks who only like to read new releases, you’d be surprised at how quickly the library gets them in. The key to it, is to know of the release well in advance so you can place a reservation before all of the other bookworms in your area.
As for one of the main deterrents that stop people from borrowing from their libraries, sure, some of the copies are a little beat up and dirty, but if the book has been protected with clear contact, you can easily just wipe it down with an antibacterial wipe. It may still look a little yuck, but you won’t catch any nasties.
My town is all over free wifi. We have it down Main Street, we have it on the beach, in most cafes, and in all our malls, but my favourite place to sit and use the free wifi is in the library (see number 3 and 6 for my reasons why) Sure, it mightn’t be the fastest internet on the planet, but if you’re from Australia and you’ve been suffering through private NBN recently, you probably won’t notice much difference.
Sure, there are limitations to what you can do on public wifi (no illegal business, sorry folks, but you know you shouldn’t be doing that anyway), and if you didn’t bring your own device, the public computers often have time limits and a lot of websites blocked, and on top of that, there are things you probably shouldn’t do on public computers and wifi, for your own safety and security (leave the online banking for home), but for scrolling Instagram, jotting down blog posts, updating your Pinterest, finishing assignments, and even gaming, YouTube or streaming services, the local library’s wifi is definitely a massive perk, and something I’ll be eternally grateful for.
I live in the subtropics, south of the equator, where summer spans December to February and Winter is just some strange concept or an old memory from living in another place. It’s March as I write this, and the temperature hit about 35 degrees yesterday (about 95 for you Fahrenheit folks) so air con is a must, especially in the humidity. Thankfully my library cranks that air con right down to a lovely cold temperature and places a good amount of seats in the sun, so you can bask in that beautiful light (protected from the UV, and the ozone hole by the glass) while staying at a comfortable temperature. Of course, the free wifi and cold air con do make the library very crowded during summer holidays, and it’s not always the quietest space, but from a reprieve from the heat, I’ll take it.
One of my favourite hobbies is to spend my local library’s money. It’s their fault for offering this service and putting it on the homepage of their website. Granted, it’s in tiny letters, but I’m fairly good at finding things on the internet. So, you can bet that I fill out that purchase request form a great many times, and thankfully my library always obliges me, and orders in the books I’d like to read. It’s a service to them too, though, because the books always end up with a thousand reservations on them (credit to the internet book world for hooking me up with the hottest new reads, you make me feel popular *insert Glenda, WICKED gif*), also I’d just like to quickly apologise to anyone living in my region who reserves a book that I’ve requested because I always forget to return them quickly, I know, I know - I’m working on it.
Sometimes, if I’ve drained my library’s bank account for the month and they don’t have any spare money to let me buy stuff with, they’ll bring in books from other libraries (likely ones with fewer book bloggers spending all their money, but that’s just speculation). The best part about this, is that you have the option of paying for an inter-library loan, or requesting one for free. We all like free things, no? So, don’t worry if your library doesn’t show a particular book in their catalogue, scour their website for small little options to request a book for purchase or interlibrary loan, and if you can’t find that option (likely written in very small letters) pop in and have a chat with one of the friendly, bookworm librarians and they might be able to find it for you.
It's about 10am as I write this and it’s just hit 31 degrees, but I’m pretty sure the air con is on 20, and this sun is the only thing that’s keeping me from grabbing my cardigan. I love the seats I'm sitting in right now, they’re perfect for curling up in and reading whatever book I can grab. I have sat in these chairs for hours and hours some weekends and read multiple books from cover to cover. I’ve also spent hours annoying everyone within hearing range with my very loud keyboard as I write posts. They’re one of my favourite things, and I’m always a little upset when they’re not available. I know not every library has spots like these, and I’m always grateful my library does. Scour your local library for somewhere warm or cool to sit and read or work. Bring some headphones (or earplugs) if you don’t want to listen to the usual noise of the place. Some Ibrahim’s are quiet, but mine, unfortunately, is not.
My library has a lot of ways that you can listen to all the hip new music, sure, with streaming services like Spotify, I definitely don’t use these services as much as I used to, but I’m grateful they exist. My library allows free loaning of CDs, and you can also download five free music titles a week from their website. We love a cheap Queen.
My library also has a giant range of DVDs available for loan, both movies and TV shows. Online, you can also watch a lot of indie and local film and TV for free with their unusual streaming services.
So the grotty old library books really got you down? Never fear! The ebook collection is here! My library has two book catalogues, Overdrive (compatible with Kindle eReaders in the United States only), and Wheelers. Both are compatible with Kobo eReaders, like the Kobo H2O I own. Overdrive and wheelers also have apps in the App Store and Google play for mobile devices. The ebook catalogues are way bigger than I thought they were, and requesting a title for purchase is super easy too!
I don’t use audiobooks half as much as I should. My local library offers audiobook downloads across three apps, Overdrive, Bolinda Borrow Box and RB digital, each site/app have different books on their catalogue, making it easy to find what you’re looking for. I'm not a big audiobook listener, but one thing I really like about having access to free audiobooks is that I can slowly ease myself into listening to them, without feeling as though I'm wasting money by having a subscription to an audiobook service and not using it.
Bonus: Educational resources.
Along with a massive non-fiction catalogue, my library also offers free subscriptions to sites like Mango languages, perfect if you want to learn a new language or brush up your skills. My library also offers free seminars and talks about interesting topics, everything I know about photography I learned from one of these free talks. I'd definitely recommend checking out their events calendar to see if its something they offer.
What are some of your favourite features of your local library?
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