Libraries are dying. There are fewer libraries than there has been for a long time. Budget cuts mean that more and more libraries are becoming totally volunteer-run, and services are having to be reduced. Many cities now manage with just one central library, instead of smaller community spaces. If they’ve got one at all and fewer people are visiting libraries.
Many libraries are doing their best to adapt. Those studying library science at USC are looking for ways to modernize and adapt to the needs of an ever-changing population such as ebook rentals and other digital devices. Larger libraries have media rooms, where visitors can create films, podcasts, and other multimedia features, using modern technology, without having to buy their own. But still, numbers are falling. We’ve got better things to do with our time.
But, in truth, there’s little better that you could do than visit your local library. It can be a great place to spend some of your free time. Here are just a few of the reasons to visit your local library.
It’s More Than Books
Libraries are so much more than books to borrow. As I’ve already said, many libraries offer multimedia equipment and other tools. Even older libraries provide computers, internet access, scanners, and printers. Your library might have groups like playgroups for children, or more casual craft tables. They might have a writers club or a reading group. They might offer special events like winter fetes, bake sales, and even fitness classes. It’s only when you start to visit your library that you become aware of all that they have to offer, and all of these valuable resources that might be on your doorstep.
But There Are Books
But, of course, there are books. Reading is a powerful thing. It keeps your mind young and alert, and it gives you a way to escape your life and dive into another. Reading a variety of different materials is a great idea, but when you go to a book shop, you might gravitate toward your favorite authors or at least favorite genres. In a library, you are more likely to browse, ask staff for recommendations, and try new things. Even better, if there’s something that you want, but can’t find, they might be able to get it for you. And better than that, it’s all free. Free, lifetime access to stories. How wonderful.
Your Library is Part of Your Community
Visiting the library has another massive benefit. It’s a community center. It’s somewhere you can go to feel safe and looked after. In your library, you are surrounded by people you have at least one thing in common with. For many older people, visiting the library is a great way to maintain social contact. Which let’s face it, in a world where we’re all connected, but quite lonely, is important, no matter how old you are.
It’s a Great Place to Work
More of us than ever before are working from home. This is great. Working from home gives you a way to work flexibly around other commitments. But, it can be both lonely and distracting. If you miss being around people or find it hard to focus around the stresses of everyday home life, why not head to the library to work some of the time? The change of scenery can help you to work more productively and even improve your mental health.
You Might Well Be Saving An Important Community Space
As we can see, libraries are essential. But, so many of them are struggling. Attendance is low, budgets are being cut, and if libraries are going to survive and continue providing these services, they need to be used. Spend time in your library, donate your old books and puzzles, volunteer if you can, and spend money at any sales and events that they might have.
It’s a Safe Space
Libraries are safe. There’s no judgement. You can breastfeed in the library. It can be somewhere that you escape from the world. In the library, we are all equal.
To Encourage a Love of Reading
If you’ve got children, taking them to the library and spending time around different books is a wonderful way to encourage a lifelong love of reading, which could aid their development enormously.
Perhaps another great reason, is why not? The library is a free place to spend time with friends. You could join writing or craft groups or even work with staff to start your own. And, of course, you’ll have access to plenty of books, from a range of different genres, and reading is never a bad thing.
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