One person’s experience of borrowing her full quota of books from the library…
“Last February, I took my family to our local library for Save Libraries Day. It wasn’t under threat, but I wanted to do something – anything – to make a blip in the issues figures, the membership figures and the visitor figures and show my support for its future.
We were already library users, but my partner was not a member – if he wanted anything I would take it out on my ticket. And I would never take out more than two or three books at a time, because I couldn’t possibly read more in the three week loan period. The same applied to the kids (I’ve got two).
But 5 February 2011 was different. I’d posted on Twitter, sent emails and spoken to friends, encouraging them to at least visit on that day, to join up and yes – to borrow their full quota of books. Off we trotted to the library, determined not to leave until we’d *really* used it!
First the non-member joined up and got his first library card in years. It felt good. Then we began to scour the shelves – but instead of being choosy, we picked up whatever took our fancy. And it was a revelation! We looked at sections of the library we’d never explored before, and found things we’d no idea they had. We chose recipe books to look through properly at home, books of history and politics that we might – or might not – have a chance to read in full, and travel books on places we *might* want to visit. No certainties here – we were allowing ourselves to taste and experiment in a way that for some reason we had not before – and all in the name of taking out all the books we could. We hadn’t expected it to be so enjoyable!
The children chose stories by authors they’d never tried before, old favourites and multiple books about subjects they were covering at school. And we lugged our haul over to the self-issue machines with a feeling of glee and anticipation. What did we have to lose? It was all free!
Yes, it was a LOT to carry home. Yes, we’d only *really* done it as a gesture – but it turned out to be much more than that. We had a great time, the library had a new member, and when we got home it was a huge treat to go through all our spoils and spend some time surrounded by loads of new books.
No – we didn’t end up reading them all. But we read ones we might not have even brought home otherwise. And no, we didn’t end up with huge fines as 60 books went overdue! Because it got us back into the habit. After a week, we took back the ones we were less keen on (and borrowed an equivalent number). And after another week, the same. And we’re still using our local library so much more – and so differently – due to that one day’s activity.
So I would urge you to try it on National Libraries Day this weekend – set yourself free, take a sturdy bag with you, sign up for email / text reminders and challenge yourself to borrow more than you think you could possibly need – it might just transform your life!”