Free books? What's not to like?!

Top Five Reasons to Love Your Library!

Free books? As many as you can carry? Brand new titles? Free returns if it's not your cup of tea? Multiple copies for your Reading Group? Able to get hold of any title you fancy? .......Where is this bibliomaniac's heaven?!

I am not just addicted to books, I am also addicted to my library! Try as I might, I struggle to walk past without quickly popping in to see what they've added to the enticing "Quick Choice"/ "Hot Picks"/ "Best Reads" stands which seduce me from the pavement. I don't often get as far as the rows of delicious books which just beg to be searched through, looking for whatever takes your fancy at that moment. And it's all for free! Even with the constant offers at supermarkets, high street chains, amazon and kindle, you can't beat getting a good read for free!

Saturday 6th February is National Libraries Day. Treat yourself. Go take a look at your local library. Support these sanctuaries! Borrow something new which you've never tried before or grab the latest novel by your favourite author.

My Top Five Reasons Why I Love My Library

Try Before You Buy

I have a ridiculous list of books on my "to read" list and it gets longer and longer every day. Sometimes it's a book I know I'm going to love or by an author I've already come across. Sometimes it's a book someone has recommended; it's been well reviewed or adorns the book stands in every shop window. Sometimes it's something I feel I "ought" to read, never got around to reading when it came out or it's a classic that I never had the courage to tackle. Sometimes I'm happy to buy the book but often I'm not sure if I'm going to like it or if it's something I'd ever want to read again.

So I go to the library. I take out said book. I try it. I'll give it a maximum of 100 pages if I'm feeling generous. If I don't like it, I return it, scrub it off my list and go on to the next thing. No cost. No loss. No brainer.

The library is a great way to help you be more experimental with your reading choices. Who knows - one day you'll hit upon a new author or genre and you'll never look back!

Keep a List

So many books, so little time..... I grab them from the shelf - frenzied bibliomaniac I am -until there's no more room in my shopping bag or my arm will break carrying them home.  But there's still more I want! So I take photos. Next time I wander in, I can check my phone and see what it was that I wanted so desperately last time. I won't feel bereft or bitter that someone else has stolen my read for themselves, but will maturely move on to my next choice. Maybe this time I'm no longer in the mood for it but hang on.....what about this? And how quickly can I get home to read it?!

Hot Off The Publisher's Desk

This is a great offer. Brand new books for a one week loan. Yes, you have to "budget" your reading time a little but actually, getting through a book in one week isn't as much of a challenge as you might think. Or it's a challenge you should rise to every now and again! To be honest, I'm pretty sure you'd be able to renew for the following week when it came to it. It's a great way to keep new titles available and ensure everyone sees what is newly published. My bug bear with the library used to be the lack of current novels but this scheme has been brilliant and I've got hold of all sorts of things - without even having to wait for them to come out in paperback! See if your library has a similar scheme or could introduce one.

Search the Library Catalogue before Amazon

Your library will have a search catalogue which you will be able to access from your home computer. See if your book is in stock and if necessary, place a reservation. For Hertfordshire the reservation cost is 60p - nothing at all really, and still cheaper than a kindle daily deal! The catalogue will show you if any of the other libraries in your county have the book in stock and I've found that you usually receive a book you've reserved in a couple of days, wherever it's transferred from. It is possible to order from other libraries outside of your county too for a charge of £3. This is a great way of getting hold of exactly what you want, especially new titles or very popular novels.

It is possible to join other libraries like The British Library (although you cannot take books away from there) so it's worth investigating libraries near your work or that interest you if you want access to a broader range of things or more specialised texts. It should be free to join most of these places.

Book Clubs

Most libraries offer a book club. On the Hertfordshire Libraries website you can search for Book Groups in your area. Some are for novels, some for plays, poetry or more specialised areas. Book Groups are a fun way to meet new people and talk about books! As well as making sure you actually do some reading (usually they meet monthly which is ample time to get through something), it will also make you read authors and genres that you might not have come across before. If you are already in a Book Club, the library will order in multiple copies for your group which is economical and again, saves you spending money on a book that you are unsure about. It also means your group can pick hardback titles as well which broadens your options and means you can be the first to review the latest most talked about reads!  

And then there's all the other things the library offers...... Free WiFi, computer access, Toddler Storytime, Newspapers, Magazines, guest speakers, Summer activities for younger readers and one off special events like "Harry Potter Night".

So search for your inner bibliophile and learn to love your library - celebrate National Libraries Day on Saturday!

To get you in the mood - Ten Books about Libraries
1. The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
2. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
3. The Eyre Affair / Lost in a Good Book / The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde
4. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
5. The Borrower by R Makkai
6. The Archivist by M Cooley
7. Mr Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by R Sloan
8. The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom
9. In the Stacks: Short Stories about Libraries and Librarians ed by M Cart
10. Three Past Midnight: The Library Policeman by Stephen King


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