Monday, 15 March 2010

Lovely Libraries!

Forget refuse collection, education, social care and the like. Being able to borrow books is, in my view, just about the most wonderful service that a local authority provides. My dullest day can be perked up by a visit to the library and coming out with a weighty armful of books picked at random. And the kindly decision-making fairies at Devon County Council have just increased my borrowing pleasure by upping the maximum loan allowed from 6 to 12 books. - Bliss!!

Even if you're having a slow witted moment you might have noticed an obvious downside to this. If my disorganised supergene kicks in at the wrong time I could be racking up charges to the tune of over £2 per day and a week or two's oversight might equate to a mini spending spree on Amazon where you also get to keep the books. There's a new automated reminder service via email that's helping me eliminate this occasional problem altogether.

So I borrow books on a whim, trying things that I wouldn’t think of buying in a month of Sundays. It also helps me differentiate between keepers that I might want to buy in the future and ones that need throwing back either because I’ve gleaned all the information that I need or just don’t live up to my expectations.

As I’ve become less precious about keeping books and a more regular library user I’ve found out things about our local library that I thought it was worth sharing.

• You may be able to borrow anywhere in your local authority area. This means that you can either use the reservation service or become a sort of ‘library tourist’ travelling around to investigate what each one is like in your area.
• Similarly, investigate whether you can take books back to a different library to the one that you borrowed them from. This works in Devon but from a quick bit of research that I did on the Internet it seems to be something that a lot of the councils in the UK allow you to do.
• Sometimes being unable to renew a book on-line might not mean that it cannot be renewed if you speak to a human being, either at the library or by telephone. They can sometimes weave some magic that seems to override the system available to the public.
• Sometimes you can find the book you're after in the large print collection if it isn't in the main library collection.

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