1. Free internet access
2. Free books– libraries stock a wide range of books. From the latest novel, classical novels to autobiographies. Getting them from the library is even cheaper than picking them up at discounted prices from Tesco and Amazon.
3. Research base– for absolutely anything, from children’s projects, to reading up on herbalism, meditation, how to use ebay, or an illness. I borrow a lot of recipe books from my library, you can get the book out and then just photocopy your favourite recipes instead of having to buy one. This is especially great if you only bake once in a blue moon, or are having a vegetarian to stay, or someone with an intolerance.
4. Sanctuary– libraries are the only place left where you can sit in quiet/silence. You can get away from the busy, noisy outside world.
5. Free culture– lots of libraries now have a whole host of events. I went to a Chinese new year celebration last Saturday, enjoying free lanterns, having a go at painting or writing in Chinese style, free tea, the list goes on, and all for free! Libraries usually hold open mic poetry readings, amongst other things.
6. Base of the community– libraries are the best place to find out about societies and clubs in your area. Lots of them have a list online with a contact number. You can find out about athletics, yoga, special interest groups, language learners groups, writing groups, book clubs, there really is a wide range of things to join and there is no other way to find out about them, not even Google can tell you, you can only find the extensive list at your library.
7. Local history– books about your local area will have been written by academics, professors or researchers so that people can use the research to write papers/journal articles about the bigger picture. Without libraries, there will be no way to collect this information, as they are not usually published- there isn’t a market to buy them. This will lose the best way to learn about your local area too.
8. Online resources– libraries now have online reference points, such as three types of encyclopaedias (one for younger children, older children, and adults). They are easy and quick to use, and far more accurate than Wikipedia.
9. Large print books– for anyone with worsening eye sight, but also large print books are just easier to read, it makes the eye muscles in your eyes not have to work so hard so you won’t get tired as fast. It is incredibly difficult to buy large print books; you can’t even find them online most of the time. It is really important to keep this service for people who need large print books. This is why it is vital to save those little mobile libraries, for the elderly and sick in particular, so that people who can’t leave the house much can use the service.
10. Reading should be free– every child should be able to read regardless of their background. It will be a sad day when we lose a service like that. Every summer libraries run a little course, children can join in for free. The aim is to read six books in the summer holidays, collecting small prizes like stickers and pencils, and finally working towards a certificate and a medal at the end. I used to do this every summer, I loved it. For children whose parents have to work, or aren’t able to afford day trips, being able to read books for free is a great way to spend the long summer holiday. Books are expensive, that’s the bottom line, reading regularly really helps children learn to write well and spell, so libraries are vital for families from poorer backgrounds, whose children statistically are under-achievers.
Last Saturday was ‘save your local library’ day but it’s not too late. If you don’t have a member card yet, go to your local library and sign up, and start using it for free. You can now reserve books online so you can just pop in and collect your books. You can renew online too so no late fees.