Though lots of people use the library’s computers and internet connection, I simply carry in my own laptop and mobile modem. The only thing I do is use their electricity supply – all part of the service they offer.
The main reason I do this is because, living outside of any town or village, my modem works like a slow dial-up connection while in any of our local libraries, I get the Broadband signal that speeds up my work no end.
If I were genuinely a lonely entrepreneur – and it does feel that way sometimes – the other great benefit is being right at the heart of a thriving community. And that’s what this posting is all about. Because if it’s ages since you used the library (and I avoided them like the plague for 25 years) you might not realise what a wonderful service they provide, filling a variety of people’s needs.
- They have a supply of daily newspapers and weekly and monthly magazines. I see pensioners saving money and keeping warm by leisurely reading their favourite rags and shoppers escaping from the crowds for a while with a good glossy
- They are a kind of childminder. Some junior school children call in direct from school; they sit in groups at small tables doing their homework while waiting for mums to finish up work
- The secondary school kids come in to research projects and watch music videos on the net
- They are a tourist information centre. I often overhear conversations with the librarians from American and British visitors keen to discover old family roots and historical data
- They are an exhibition centre. This week it is a local artist displaying some pretty garish paintings using acrylics. Even I could paint a plain canvas with yellow acrylic paint but I could be missing something there. In recent weeks they have displayed arts and crafts from the travelling community and photographs from an old Anglo-Irish aristocratic family which made an old Irish woman cry and tell me her story (she remembers her grandparents being kicked off their land to make way for the Maude family)
- They offer respite to mums of young toddlers with weekly story-telling sessions and the special needs teachers bring their charges in so they can use the computers and possibly to improve their social skills
- They are a speakers’ bureau, inviting local experts to come in and talk about their passion
- They display notices and adverts about every community event you can imagine; the most comprehensive listing you can find anywhere
- They are a safe warm friendly place for people of all ages, backgrounds and mental abilities to connect with the rest of the community
- And sometimes they just lend you books
I could be a librarian, I think. Maybe in my next life. Much too much to do right now.