The love of the library

My name is Hannah, and I’m a book addict.

This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me (as a child, I was known in my mum’s favourite shops because I would bring a book with me and hide somewhere in the shelves. In clothes shops, I’m fairly sure I would actually station myself among the clothes on their rails until Mum was ready to go and had to track me down – either that, or ask an assistant if they’d seen me disappear into an aisle somewhere.

However, finances are tight in the household. And there’s nothing better than picking up a book, deciding you can’t live without it RIGHT NOW and taking it home with you there and then. Given that I have little desire to be a shoplifter, the obvious choice is the library!

I live on the outskirts of a fairly large town in the south-west of England, and am lucky that the county I live in has a deal with three other counties so I can request and borrow books from libraries in four counties. I discovered the joy of reserving books online about a year ago – they cost no more than £1 a book to get it sent to a library of your choice. There’s a small library literally thirty seconds walk away from where I work, so if I have a specific book in mind, I reserve it and it’s usually at the library within seven to ten days.

The best experience is going to a big library and just wandering, picking books up from the shelves and seeing whether it’s a book I’d like to try. There’s a large library in Taunton, where I used to live and where two of my best friends still live – so when I go to see either of them, I usually drop by the library for an hour before going to meet them.

(I NEVER remember to bring a bag for my books though. Libraries used to supply them but I think they got withdrawn due to budget cuts, and I’ve been caught out on more than one occasion because I’ve picked up about seven books and can’t carry them with ease).

Here’s a picture of my current library stack:

007

I think about half of these were impulse picks and the rest were ones I requested specifically – I usually go through my Amazon wish-list about once every six weeks and see which books are available at the library before reserving them. It’s saved me an awful lot of money through the past year and introduced me to a few authors I wouldn’t have read otherwise.

(And this pic doesn’t include the library book I’m currently reading or the three that are waiting for me at the library… Oops).

A couple of years ago, the opening hours at a lot of the libraries in my area were cut – I think one only opened four days a week instead of six, and the giant library in Taunton I mentioned earlier closed at 1 on a Saturday instead of 5.  Luckily, the council saw sense (or was threatened with legal action – you decide) and most of the opening hours were returned to what they had been.  Libraries are an awesome way to discover new authors, as well as providing excellent social opportunities for all ages – I have fond memories of reading groups and challenges throughout the never-ending summer holidays in primary school.  Although I still purchase more books than I probably should, I will always check the library first now to see if the book I’m desperate for is available to borrow, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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