Libraries: are they really free?

Posted on: 09/04/2011

Now, it will come as no surprise to those of you who have followed the news in the last year that libraries in the UK have come under threat of closure with all the cutbacks going on.

vichie81 /

I am poised to take my smallest and middle children to the library before collecting oldest one from a playdate.

I have to say, I don’t usually bother, but I know if I don’t, I won’t get around to it before we go away, and thereby heaps of fines will stack up.

How do I know this?  Well, if you know me and my capacity to forget anything non-essential (essential really being whether I’m sufficiently interested or actually vital to sustain the life of my loved ones), you can probably work out that I have experienced this before.

I love my library.  I forget to go most of the time.  Even worse, I tend to forget to go back when the books are due in.

In fact, I forget for extremely long periods of time. Months can pass between visits.

This can make for rather an expensive library experience.  In fact, I’d probably be better off buying the books from a bookshop and saving myself the stress.

But there is something wonderful about a library.  The joy of taking your ticket and your chosen books to the counter and having it to take home without any money changing hands.  That sense that you can browse for as long as you like without some narky shop assistant calling out, oy! You gonna buy that?

So we continue to go. I try not to let the kids take too many books out.  I also try not to be tempted myself.  But sometimes we can’t resist.  Where’s Wally, for instance, cannot be completed in just the one library session.  And where better to have a story told than from the special story chair?  (Have you noticed? There’s one in every children’s corner of every library I’ve ever been in.)

So I’ll keep visiting the library, and I’ll keep enjoying the experience.  I just won’t expect the service to be free for a scatterbrain like me.  And let’s hope my fines go a small way to keeping my library open.  After all, I would really hate to see it go.


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