Today was one of my library days.  With no coaching clients in my appointment calendar and a lot of internet stuff to get through, working in the library is a great option for me.

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.

5 thoughts on “In Praise of the Library

  • Marie Taylor

    Well mine eyes hath been opened by the great Marion Lawyer of all abundance and attraction. Strange how Marion just manages to pop up with things when you have been thinking and a pondering. I passed a revamped library in Ealing last week near to where I live- I have passed this library at least 10 times a month for years. It has been “done up” and I noticed in the flash entrance way there is- wait for it- A sofa, 2 chairs and a….. coffee machine. I thought of going in but I couldn’t think where I had put my out of date library tickets. Well, I shall be popping in there pronto asking for a renewal of membership now I know they are provide such a well of wonderfulness as described by Mrs Claus of Ireland-thanks Marion

  • Kate Bacon

    Glad to see you back posting Marion…and thanks for the reminder to join the re-vamped Brighton Library (I think it even one an award for being “green” – something else to add to your list?)

  • Ann Harrison

    I love libraries. I grew up living seconds away from our local library and I was in there every day – especially during the school holidays when I’d spend whole mornings in there. I felt bereft when, five years ago, I moved to a village without a library of it’s own but my peace of mind has now been restored since, following another move, the library is now just 400 steps away… (Can you tell I’m trying to do 10,000 steps a day, by the way?)

  • Marion

    Very nice to have all your comments, ladies. I was in the library again yesterday for a couple of hours and around me, the librarians were blowing up balloons and clearing space for… the children’s pyjama party today! Stories, mince pies and hot chocolate – yeah. I’ve been looking everywhere for a 3 – 8 yr old in a pair of jim-jams but to no avail.
    I hope you’ll join (or rejoin) your local libraries and experience the delight of borrowing some books you would never actually buy (even you, Ms Moneybags Taylor). Doing this has really broadened my reading over the last 2 or 3 years.
    And that’s reminded me that Suzanne, the chief librarian, was telling me yesterday about the book clubs they now run. That would be a fab new pastime for me in 2008.

  • Vera O'Reilly

    I have used libraries since as a junior I was first able to take myself into one.
    Reading was my #1 hobby, second was knitting. We had no television, and only the ‘wireless’ to listen to. (Showing my age here!)
    I have very rarely bought a book. Books were treasured gifts,and I still own all the books I was given as a child. One of these is so old it has brittle and browned pages.
    My husband walks three minutes down the road every Thursday to read the papers in the library. Then the old skinflint doesn’t have to buy any! Perhaps ‘astute old boy’ might be kinder words.


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