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Libraries ACT and why you need to go there

By Suzanne Kiraly 3 February 2019

Books are doorways to the imagination – and our local libraries are treasure troves waiting to be explored.

Readers all appreciate the power of a book. Whether it’s a physical copy or an eBook or audio, we know that books change lives. No doubt most of us will have books that left an indelible mark on their hearts and minds.

Canberrans are readers

Canberra has more readers than in any other capital city. (At least this was so last time I researched.) And according to an Australia Council survey of Australian reading habits:

  • We value and enjoy reading and would like to do it more
  • Most of us still turn pages but many are swiping too
  • Each month almost as many people borrow books (41 per cent) as those who buy them (43 per cent)

It’s encouraging that 41 per cent are borrowing from libraries, but what if you haven’t considered this option for a long time? How long since you gave libraries a second thought?

It’s not that we don’t love libraries, we do. But with the busyness of our lives, with instant access to online treasures, and little spare time, often we have forgotten the treasure that resides in a library.

Over the Summer holidays, I frequented quite a few of the many public libraries that are administered by Libraries ACT to discover what they had to offer. I was astounded at the plethora of services available, and impressed by the enthusiastic librarians who greeted me.

In short, libraries are still magical places, I found. And I was reminded of a quote I love that describes the magic of books in a library so well. It’s the notion that,

“The library is inhabited by spirits that come out of the pages at night.” — Isabel Allende

Book clubs

Did you know that the library can register your book club and put aside up to 15 copies of books, supplied free of charge, ahead of your meetings? The offerings are impressive too: I was thrilled to find a section of the guide with Book Club Titles List 2019. In January! They carry up-to-date titles with notes and links back to Goodreads. Definitely worth a visit if you are in a book club.

You can also reserve community rooms, attend author talks, have a library come to you, and download eBooks and audiobooks from the comfort of your own home. Of course, the range of services for your children and school holiday activities are also a strength.

Themed events & more

The library also runs regular themed events. Last year I was impressed with their “Speed Dating” event. The notion of dating a book tickled my fancy. After all, my prized possession in my lounge room is a sign that’s hanging there for all to see: “Book lovers never go to bed alone”.

On Valentine’s Day this year, they will be holding #libraryloversday – there is love to be found in a library, apparently. To find out more, go to alia.org.au/libraryloversday

Their “Most Requested Items” section, features books of all persuasion: DVDs, magazines, eBooks and children’s/YA books. Interesting to note that Jane Harper has two books in the eBook section – now that’s success, right there. (Do you judge people by the books on their shelves? I’ll bet you do!)

If you have not been to the library for a while, I’m sure it will be an outing you will be thankful for – and who knows? You might even become a regular.

I will leave you with the luscious thought that you can explore the fruits of any public library in air-conditioned comfort – for free.

“For those without money, the road to that treasure house of the imagination begins at the public library.” Pete Hamill


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