In Praise of the Library

Libraries- an amazing and free resource in every town

Do you know everything that is available at your local library?

We all know that you can get books, but do you know what else is available? Actually I’m not sure if everyone knows that you can get books, as I do seem to meet a lot of people who never go to the library, or at least last went when they were a child.

I am a regular at the library. In fact, at one point I was reserving so many books that a staff member said that she knew our answerphone message off by heart having listened to it almost every week when she rang to say that my books were ready to collect.

I have to say that our library service is fabulous. You can reserve books online from any library in the county and they will bring it to your local library for you collect. In addition, they can request books from several neighbouring authorities for you. Each of these services is free.

In my younger days I used to spend a lot of money buying novels, but after reading them once they then usually sat on the shelf for years collecting dust. I still love buying books, but now I reserve my money for non-fiction.

I use the library mainly for novels and love just to pick a book off the shelf if it looks interesting. As it’s completely free of charge it doesn’t matter if I only manage to read a few pages and then decide to take it back. Where else can you borrow something, use it for its intended purpose and then take it back when you’ve finished and pay absolutely nothing?

Occasionally I pick non-fiction books off the shelf, normally ones about food, finances or lifestyle. We have often reserved a newly-released cookery book to see if we would be interested in buying it.  I will try out a few of the recipes and if we enjoy them then I may order it.

Download an audiobook

Apart from paper books I have also downloaded audiobooks to listen to in the car. Most libraries appear to have these available, along with e-books and again they are free.

A little bit of recent research has also shown that the following are available in libraries throughout the country, mostly for free:

  • Online magazines
  • Online newspapers
  • Researching your family tree – you may have to go into the library rather than access it remotely.
  • Reading groups
  • DVDs
  • Book prescriptions
  • Digital drop-ins – help with computers, tablets, etc.
  • Careers advice e.g. help with cvs and job-hunting
  • Researching companies
  • Business support -workshops and seminars e.g. market research resources, how to grow your business
  • Webinars
  • Free one to one business advice
  • Activities for children, e.g. craft events, messy play.

So, if you don’t use your local library, shame on you.

If you do, but it’s only for books, maybe have a look at what else they offer.

If you’ve cancelled that magazine subscription in order to save a bit of money you might be able to read it for free online.

If you miss immersing yourself in the day’s news, check out online newspapers.

11 Replies to “In Praise of the Library”

  1. I came to your site via this post:

    Happy I clicked it as I’ve enjoyed very much what I’ve read (perhaps more on the bird watching though). I wanted to ask, given what you write in this post, if you have any recommendations for good pulse related cookbooks? I’ve dipped in to Dr Day’s book and though I already eat plenty of whole foods and cook pretty much everything from scratch, I really want to start eating more lentils. I’d have them in the same curry sauce but believe there should be a little more to it than that.

    Thanks again.

    1. Akikana, I am so glad that you have enjoyed the blog. If you are looking for traditional vegetarian food based on beans and lentils I would suggest ‘The Bean Book’ or ‘Not Just a Load of Old Lentils’, both by Rose Elliot.

      I have had a look through some of our cookery books for lentil recipes that I have made. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has a few lentil recipes in his Veg book. One that I make is a puy lentil salad with beetroot and feta. In the Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver he has a recipe for puy lentils with braised rosemary and garlic. We eat this with sausages – for Mr Simple meaty ones and I have veggie sausages.

      I have found an interesting recipe for lentil pastry on the website of Sussex University – search for vegetarian quiche on the university’s site. A good substitute for ordinary pastry and really easy. An alternative to flatbreads is the socca, made with gram or chickpea flour. The recipe I use is in the River Cottage Bread Handbook by Daniel Stevens.

      Finally, if you just want various bean and lentil curry recipes then I would suggest Curry Easy Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey.

      All of these books have been in print for a while so I would hope that your local library would stock them and you can have a try of the recipes before you commit to buying them.

      If there is anything else that I can help with please let me know.

  2. I think you already know that I’m in complete agreement with you about libraries! They’re some of my favourite places in this world for all the reasons you’ve named above. 🙂

    1. Hello Chrissy, yes I know, with you I am preaching to the converted. I think though that we need to spread the word as I do worry that if we don’t use them then we will lose them. Sam

  3. Great post as I love libraries – I’m now a member of two, my local one and the big main one in city centre.

    Still currently reading books I own so haven’t been to either one for a few weeks! Really miss going but been busy adding books to my library to-read list, ready to reserve when I’m done with my books. I get emails when my books are ready to collect and also reminders of when my books are due for return.

    1. Weenie, so glad you enjoyed it. For me opening a new book, anticipating the delights within, is like having a birthday every week. Sounds like your library service is a good one. We have just started getting email prompts about a couple of weeks ago. Sam

  4. What a truly honest evaluation of what’s on offer at our wonderful libraries. I too enjoy and make the most of the valuable resources on offer at our local library. Peaceful, pleasant and calm places to sit and enjoy everything on offer. The staff are always friendly and helpful. In a busy tech filled life there is still true joy and peace to be found in a library. I still love the feel of a proper book 📚 I wish these valuable and free libraries were used much, much more. Thank you for highlighting the joy of literature 💕

    1. Susan, nice to see you again. As you have probably gathered I love my local library. I can never get over that magical feeling that you can choose anything off of the shelf and take it away with you free of charge. It’s like Christmas every week. Of course you have to take it back at some point, but then I’ve had my use of it and someone else can enjoy it.

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