Libraries have changed – and for the better
HAVE you been in a public library recently? Someone suggested that I read Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s autobiography. Never heard of her or the book so I called into a public library near me. They told me it was out but that they would email me when it was available. And true to their word, some days later the email arrived, informing me that the book was in the library and they would hold it until July26.
How the world of libraries has changed? They have gone from being stuffy off-putting pseudo-scholarly scary buildings to being warm and welcoming places, where you can fall into a soft chair and read to your heart’s content.
Many of them offer a wide selection of daily national and UK newspapers. The library has become the perfect place to relax and have a free read of a hard-copy newspaper.
And the staff could not be friendlier or more helpful. Did you know that you can now return a library book at any of the State’s public libraries? So, say I bring Kubler-Ross’ book to Kerry with me and finish it there, I can deposit it in any library in Kerry. If your public library does not have a requested book they can search in any of the State’s public libraries for it and get it to you.
And all of these facilities are available for free once you have a library card, which is easily obtained. With that card you can borrow books from all the public libraries within the State and indeed, avail of all the other facilities they offer. The card is akin to the Travel Pass with fewer restrictions on it.
It also allows you to read many of the world’s press online. If you download an app called PressReader, supply details of your library card when prompted, hey presto, up jumps a myriad local and national newspapers from around the world. I have seen Indian, Canadian, and even Wicklow and Kerry newspapers on it. You can read away to your heart’s content and all for
free. If you prefer to read a hard copy, then you can print it off.
The State’s public libraries also offer an online reading service, called BorrowBox, which gives access to a large selection of books, either in text or audio format.
A number of libraries also offers a service outside normal working hours. It’s called ‘My Open Library’ and offers access to a library on a self-service basis from 8am to 10pm, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
It is to facilitate people so that they can avail of library services at times that suit them.
This service began as a pilot project in designated libraries in Offaly and Sligo in 2014. It is currently being rolled out across the State and will be extended to a total of 100 libraries by 2022 and a further 200 by 2027.
Isn’t it interesting how so often we miss what is right in front of our noses. Our public libraries are a gem. Use them. Drop into your local library and surprise yourself. And note the friendly welcome you will receive.