Cassandra: A Borrower, Past and Present
Our volunteer Cassandra who is a life-long borrower and library appreciator, writes about the changing library and its benefits for everyone.
For as long as I can recall my local library – wherever I was living at the time – has been a big part of my life. As a small child I eagerly sat in a circle of children listening as a story was read aloud. I spent summers there decorating the library sidewalk with lovely chalk artwork and winters making mangled Christmas decorations. When I was finally allowed to visit the library by myself I could spend hours wandering through the stacks, wondering what tales where hidden behind the spines. I’m sure I made a funny sight wobbling toward the librarians counter with a pile of books I could barely see over.
In those days – and I’m not that old – the library catalogue was kept in big file cabinets made of wood or metal. In order to check out a book the little paper card in the back had to be stamped.
Since then, things have changed dramatically. I still utilize my local library on a regular basis, but the trip itself is different. No longer do I spend hours smudging spines, choosing books based on title, genre, or random chance (well, only occasionally). My typical library trip, in fact, doesn’t even start at the library, but sitting in front of my computer.
I can go onto my local authority’s library website, access the online catalogue, and search for a particular author or a certain book. What I get back is a list of all relevant books held in the local authority’s system. In many instances the book I want is not at my library, but I can enter my card number and the pin supplied when I got my card and get the book sent to my nearest library. Then I can pick it up and check it out, going no further than the self-service kiosks just inside the doors. Furthermore, if I decided not to go into the library at all, I could go online and access Library2go, a large, and growing, selection of eBooks and audio books available through the my local library system in Edinburgh.
The material is accessed through a website called OverDrive and to download books or audio files you must install both Adobe Digital Editions and the OverDrive Media Console and request that your membership be updated to include eBook usage. The service is only available for those with an Edinburgh postcode, but this is a growing trend and many libraries offer something similar.
Books and digital material are not, however, the only thing you can find in the modern day library. Most libraries now have computers where you can access the internet, and IT classes if you need help. Your library might have display space, special collections, employment workshops, or even game consoles. It could even have its own book group.
If you want more information check out your local library’s webpage or go in and talk to your librarian. They many have a list of books recommended for groups and will undoubtedly be more than happy to offer advice on books to read. I recently used my local authority’s libraries blog, Tales of one City, to find a book group suited for me and am eager to get started.
If there is something exciting happening at your library or you have any interesting or little known facts you would like to share I’d love to hear from you.