10 reasons to love your library

Whether it’s here in Hertfordshire or somewhere else entirely, for National Libraries Day or all year round, here are 10 great reasons why using the public library service is a really good idea:

1. Because it gives a huge boost to your community
Libraries are fantastic community facilities – in a world where public space is shrinking almost daily. To visit the library you don’t need to take out an expensive subscription or spend money in order to be welcome. And you’ll meet people from all walks of life there too. Libraries have something to offer no matter what your goals and ambitions – you can find a wonderful, escapist novel to read or a magazine with advice on getting fit. You can get a book to help you with a favourite hobby or to learn the skills you need to run a business. You can catch up with current affairs, trace your family history or do a computer course. Libraries truly offer something for everyone, and their fantastic, free facilities make our communities better and more prosperous places to live.
2. Because if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it
The library service is judged on two things – how many people go through the doors and how many items are borrowed. The council is currently committed to transforming the way it offers services in the future and, make no mistake about this, if library services are not well-used then they will be cut. The single most effective way to support your library is to use it regularly, make sure you know what’s on offer and tell other people.
3. Because a library card gives you access to all kinds of online subscriptions that you can use from home
In Hertfordshire you can access a great collection of reference resources from your computer at home. These include historic newspapers, dictionaries and encyclopaedias, journals and business publications, arts and literature resources and public information. And more subscriptions, including family history websites, are available from computers in branches. To find out more, visit the online reference library.
4. Because using the library is more easy and flexible than ever before
These days you can manage your account in person, by telephone or online. You can visit big or small branches, use mobile libraries or make use of online subscriptions. You can borrow fiction and non-fiction, e-books, audiobooks, magazines, CDs and DVDs as well as using reference services. And, if you can’t get into a branch due to a disability or mobility problem, there’s the home library service. There is a way of being a library member that will suit you and your lifestyle – it’s just a question of finding out what suits you best.
5. Because buying all the latest bestsellers costs a bomb
But the library service stocks them. Usually with multiple copies, often displayed prominently as you walk through the door. And, if the book you want is not on the shelf, then it can usually be tracked down for a small reservation fee. Don’t even get us started on the cost of providing a heap of picture books to a story-hungry toddler every month. And where else are you absolutely welcome to browse through the magazines without having to buy them? Using the library can save you a load of money on leisure and entertainment – and we haven’t even mentioned cost-effective music and DVD rental.
6. Because it’s a really simple, cost-free way to try out e-books
E-books can be quite worrying. For instance, do you have the right kind of device? Do you understand exactly what you are buying and what you can do with it? Are you getting value for money? How secure is the information you’ve provided to the publisher, and will you be bombarded with advertising messages? But use the library’s ebook borrowing service and many of these problems disappear. Hertfordshire offer ebooks in PDF and audio books in MP3 formats that work with a wide variety of devices. And they cost nothing to borrow. To find out more about getting to grips with Herts’ ebook lending service click here.
7. Because libraries can help you keep up with interests, hobbies and current affairs
What do you like doing? Reading fat thrillers, escapist romances or the latest candidates for a literary prize? Catching up with memoirs or biographies of famous or interesting people? Flicking through glossy magazines or reading the supplements of broadsheets in detail? Pursuing hobbies like cooking, gardening, walking, travel, DIY, sport, fitness, fashion, pets, art, history, family history, crafts or collecting? Reading blogs and online news sites? Catching up with films or TV shows on DVD? Grabbing an audiobook to make your daily commute or a long journey more tolerable? You can access all these things (and many more) at your local library, either for free or for a very small charge.
8. Because you can get essential, reliable information to help you achieve your goals
What do you want to achieve? The local library can help you with personal goals like better fitness or a more healthy lifestyle. It can offer resources for learning a new language, improving your literacy and numeracy or mastering English as a second language. You can find out how to do important business tasks like accounting, project management or personnel management. You can learn more about your ancestors, understand how to manage a medical condition so it has less impact on your life, improve your computer skills, find out how to write an effective CV or brush up your interview technique, as well as checking job listings in local, national or specialist publications. You can master the driving theory or citizenship test, find out about educational courses, courses for fun, local groups and events going on in your community. Whatever you want to do to make your life better, there’s likely to be some help on offer.
9. Because you can get fast, easy Internet and PC access as well as free Wi-Fi
You’ve got Internet access and a computer at home, so why would you possibly need to use the library facilities? Because computers break like any other appliance and need time-consuming repair or replacement. Because Internet connections sometimes also break down, or other members of your household need to use the equipment at the same time you do. Because you occasionally need to make a copy or scan a document – but not often enough to invest in the equipment yourself. Where do you turn if any of this happens, just as you have an urgent task to complete? In Hertfordshire, library members can enjoy a free hour’s PC and Internet use a day with just a small charge for non-members.
10. Because you never know what you’ll find until you look
One of the greatest pleasures of visiting the library is the fact you will be constantly surprised. Browse along the shelves and you never know what you might find there. It’s this sense of potential that makes library fans love their libraries so much. From a great new author to an interest you’ve been meaning to follow for years, a magazine you never knew about before or an undiscovered film by your favourite director, there’s always something wonderful and unexpected waiting for you at the library, however big or small it is. And long may it continue.