It might seem against my interests to promote libraries given my livelihood depends on book sales, but recently I have once again rediscovered the joys of the library request system. With something like a cookbook, it gives you the chance to try before you buy. Most Fridays I swing by the library to pick up whatever requests are waiting for me, and borrow any other books or magazines that look like good weekend reading.
Sometimes I’m happy to flick through and maybe try out a recipe or two before returning a cookbook, while other times I just don’t want to give it back, and decide to buy a copy.
The public library system is such a fantastic free resource, offering much more than book loans – libraries provide a place for interest groups to meet, activities for kids, computers, internet and printers for those who do not have access at home (my local even has a 3D printer). You can ‘book a librarian’ for personalised help, and have books delivered if you are housebound. The fairly new Waiheke library building has become my office-away-from-home, a cosy and quiet (and well-designed) place to work when I need to get out of the house and don’t feel like lurking in a cafe. And I am not alone – many local freelancers use it regularly.
‘A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination’, wrote the great-value British author Caitlin Moran when lamenting the ‘cost-saving’ library closures all over England. It makes me sad that a large number of Auckland librarians recently lost their jobs, especially given that the various libraries I frequent in Auckland seem well-used.
So I say #loveyourlibrary