Advantages Lots on offer....much more than you think!
Disadvantages People still have a view of libraries as quiet and boring.
Those of you who have read a few of my reviews will probably know I work in a library. Libraries are important to me ~ not just because they pay my wages but because I love books and also like to share this love with others. I don't claim to know everything about Library Services but I think, after over ten years in the business, I have some knowledge to impart about this very important public service.From being a little girl I apparently always wanted to work in a library. My mum likes to tell people (don't they just LOVE to tell others such things) how I had a little ink pad, stamps and library cards. I played libraries and all my books were in alphabetical order ~ sad but true! When Work Experience time came around at school I asked to work in the Library Service rather than in a bank or a shop. I went off to University and then I started applying for jobs. I got one in my town's main library and the rest is history (I even met my husband there).
So, for the uninitiated, what does a library have to offer? Well, each authority is different so I can only tell you about MY library. I am not going to reel off any facts, figures and prices about libraries. Aside from being a bit boring, this will mean nothing to you and probably won't apply to your local library either. This is an opinion about the library I spend most of my time in.I get annoyed when people say there is no reason for them to come into the library because they don't borrow books. We have SO much more than that! At the library I work at we have books, magazines, free internet access, a Local History department, CDs, DVDs, videos, Play Station and X-Box Games and we also run Reading and Listening Groups, a Children's Book Group and hold events and author visits. We also sell books about the local area and at Christmas we have Christmas cards with local views. We also have a Lecture Theatre and Meeting Rooms which groups can hire out for a small fee (the Open University and a couple of Writer's Groups meet there for example).
Part of my job at the moment involves promoting the library to busy people. I have been out and about in the community visiting Staff canteens telling people about libraries and promoting a new area we have called TO GO. This is a quick choice area for people who want to whizz through the library and quickly choose an item ~ if they are on lunch hour or simply don't have time to wade through three floors of stock looking for that perfect read. This project has been a big success and it is great to see people who have never visited the library before joining and being surprised at just what we DO have to offer them....and most of the things are free, or incur a small charge. You can surf the Net (either with ID or a library card) or use a PC and only have to pay for print outs. If you bring back your books on time (we give three week loan periods and you can renew your books by phone, in person or on the Internet) you can Road Test the latest bestsellers.
Requesting books costs 80p (or 50p if you are claiming any concessions) and we can also supply sets of musical scores or plays to Music & Drama Groups. The great thing is that you can request stock from any library in Derbyshire and can get the book delivered to your local library for collection. Requests can even be made from your own home on the internet. I think it is wonderful to have so much choice even if your local library is small and the book may not be available there.At the present time CDs are loaned for one week periods and cost 80p for a single album (multiple discs cost £1.60 regardless of the amount of discs). DVDs and videos are issued for two nights and are £1.20 for older titles or £3.00 for new features. There are also information videos and Children's titles that are issued for a week at a time.
We also have local videos and lifestyle info videos that are free to borrow! Charges and loan periods do alter over time, but this information is correct at the present time. People also didn't realise that we loan out Play station and X-Box games at £3.50 per week. I also find that people come in for a DVD or other item and often end up leaving with a book ~ entering the library for another reason has reminded them about a programme they saw on TV or a biography they were meaning to read. Excellent!Books on Tape and CD are available for adults and children and are free to anyone with a visual impairment or the under 18s. They are issued for three weeks and, when charges apply cost 65p and 45p for concessionary groups. We also have books and magazines in other languages, large print items, Basic Skills material and a Disability Services department which produces magazines on tape and braille.
We are a really accesible library and try to cater to as many groups as we can. There is always room for improvement but we do try! If you can't get into our library we also have a Housebound Service which is also free of charge ~ books can either be delivered by out team of volunteers or collected by a member of your family or a designated friend.We also issue Friends & Family Tickets if you want someone to choose on your behalf. Both these services are VERY well used and appreciated by anyone who is a little less mobile (even if it is just a little bit of help on a temporary basis).
At my library we have stock spread over three floors. The Children's' Library is on the lower floor and stocks lots of picture books and reading books. We have a homework section and also a weekly Storytime. I work down here and love taking part in events for the little ones ~ last week I got paid to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and other songs while playing with toys and instruments all morning! I LOVE my job! The middle floor is the Browser library and does exactly what it says on the tin! This is where all the fiction stock and stuff that people may need on a day to day basis is stored ~ hobbies, DIY, Self Help Books, etc.The top floor houses the Study Library, Music & Drama Library and Local Studies. I work in the Study and Music & Drama libraries and am always amazed at what varied things people want. We have computers for the public to use on all the floors and are a very busy library indeed. I thoroughly enjoy coming to work each day and love all the variety and meeting people (some more than others of course!).
So....that is a brief review of where I work and a little tour of just what you will find in a modern 21st Century library. The place is noisy, buzzing and often very full and busy. I would advise that you pay a visit to your library if you haven't been there for a while. You may well be very pleasantly surprised!It's not all books, books, books...and it isn't quiet either!
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