Before Christmas, I finally got my act together and prompted by the knowledge that I was going to severely restrict my book buying this year, I re-joined the library.
Although the primary reason was selfish, I also wanted to show my support of libraries in general, with the severe cuts that are happening within local authorities, libraries are under threat and I feel that we’re entering a ‘use it or lose’ it phase with our local services.
I was a library baby for years. Ma used to take us when we were little, but in junior school (7 to 10) my primary school used to timetable trips to the library every month. I think the headmaster, Mr Jennings, who was a very strange man but also really enthusiastic about learning, felt that it was a useful thing to teach us how to use a library. We weren’t just set free on the books, we were also taught how to use the library catalogue, how to look up information for projects and so on.
When I was a teenager, I was always in one library or another. At school, I practically lived in the school library*, it was there I learned to cover books and put them back and eventually I helped choose the new fiction books. After school, I went to the library on the way home, and worked my way through the books there, eventually I got a job at the main library, for two evenings a week, I got to shelve books, work out the intricacies of the Dewy Decimal System and if it was a slow night, cover and repair books. I had to give that job up when ‘A’ Levels got in the way but I’ve always loved the magic of libraries. So after a 15 year or so lapse, I’m back!
Libraries have changed since I was last here. Ealing contracts it’s library service out to Cultural Community Solutions (Carillion) and you can do a lot more online, including joining the library, and reserving and renewing books.
I registered online in December and then went into the library on Christmas Eve and they issued me with a library card and key fob there and then. There is a desk service but you can also check books in and out using the machines.
I can borrow up to 15 books for 3 weeks, you can also borrow audio books and DVD’s. You can renew books online and check the catalogue to see if they have a book you want. Because CCS runs libraries for 4 boroughs you have access to their books too, you can reserve books online and check to see where they are, when they arrive or your books are nearly due to go back, they send you an email to let you know. The ability to reserve books is probably my favourite thing, especially since they stopped charging for it – I have about 10 books reserved, but email to tell me that my books are due back is the thing that will stop me paying ridiculous finds.
If you have a computer and internet at home the list stuff you can access with your library number is pretty impressive, The Times Archive, the Oxford University Press Online Reference, Encyclopædia Britannica Online (of course!) and loads of other stuff, you can also practice for your theory driving test and your Life in Britain (citizenship) test.
If you don’t have online access at home, you can use the computers at the library.
I love the library service and am just generally gushy about it.
Are you a member of your local library, love them, hate them? Do you use it to save you money or is the thrill of owning the books better?
*fun fact, every year Ma takes a holiday with ‘the ladies’ and one of those ladies is Ruth who was my school librarian. Ruth is absolutely the worst person ever to be let loose on ‘innocent’ children but I will always be grateful for the way she let us use the library during school lunch times and took our advice about what would get the rest of the school into the library!