Last year, in an effort to save some pennies, I decided to check out my local library. After finishing my MA, I had the reading bug again big time, but as a fast reader I was finding that I needed a way to feed my addiction to books without breaking the bank. If I’m honest, didn’t hold out much hope. I hadn’t used my local library since my early teens and the thought of a local authority library conjured up thoughts of a place frequented by small children and old people, with shelves stacked with Mills & Boon novels. Dear reader – how wrong I was!
What a goldmine! You know when you are vintage shopping and you find the perfect dress, in your size, for a fiver, and you get the excited, panic buying feeling that you must grab it immediately, before anybody finds out and tells you that you can’t have it? (OK, maybe that’s just me.) Well, a similar sensation came over me in the library and I managed to find 12 books in the space of 15 minutes that I wanted to borrow. The only question I’m left with now is why had taken me so long to visit this newly-renovated space that was on my doorstep? Interestingly, whenever I tell someone that I’m reading a library book they seem surprised and say that they’d never considered re-joining the library as an adult (like me, many of my friends and colleagues love to read but haven’t visited their local library since the nineties).
So, after being a convert for a couple of months now, here are my top reasons for why you should consider a visit to your local library.
- New Year’s resolution to save money? Easy! If you read four books a month from the library that you would have bought, you’ll save a fortune. Say that a paperback costs between £5 and £10, that’s at least £20 that you can spend on something else.
- Space. I live on the outskirts of London in a flat with limited shelving space, and if you are a book addict like me you will know that books take up a lot of space. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have a book shelf or three, but my storage situation was beginning to verge on the ridiculous, but now it’s problem solved. I don’t have a Kindle, but I am pretty sure that you can check out ebooks from the library too, which means you are ahead of the game in terms of space saving anyway.
- It’s not just a load of old musty books that you’ve already read. This is the thing that surprised me most of all. I have copies of the recent Eimear McBride, Jessie Burton and Harper Lee books all waiting in my reading pile. Can’t argue with that! I’ve also been able to try books by writers I’ve never read before and lesser known books by some of my favourites.
- It’s not just for fiction. While admittedly the DVD selection left a lot to be desired, I was delighted to discover that there is a huge cookbook section in Enfield Town Library. This is perfect for someone like me who has loads of cookbooks but only ever gets round to trying a couple of recipes from each one. I’ve currently got a couple of healthy eating books as well as recent titles by Gizzi Erskine and Nadia Hussain and there are loads more I want to try (attempting to exercise restraint in this area of the library was hard!). My library also has a gorgeous café that is run by the lovely Urvashi from season 2 of the Great British Bake off. So that means that I can drink delicious coffee and cake while I look through my library finds; a great way to spend my saved money from point 1 above.
- The more people that use the library, the more likely it is to stay open. There have been loads of media reports over the last couple of years warning that library services are being cut. I think we can all agree that libraries are a fantastic thing, even if we aren’t using them ourselves. My logic here is that the more people that are signed up to, and are using, libraries, the more funding they will get, and it will be easier for campaigners to demonstrate that they are used by everyone in the community.
So there it is. I could go on and on, but if I haven’t convinced you to sign up by now, I should probably give up.
Love your library? Read on …
- Find your local library here. Once you are signed up you receive email reminders for when your renewals are due, so library fines are a thing of the past. And you can reserve books online.
- If there are any reports that your local library services are being cut, sign that petition, email your MP and show your support in any way you can.
- Share! I would love to hear what your library finds are and will be reviewing some of my own favourites here.