From the South Coast of England, to towns on both sides of the Pennines, to Sydney to Darwin to Adelaide, once of the first things I always do is join my local library.
I now hold no less than five library cards in my wallet - one for each member of the family - for our local library network. (So not only can I borrow from the library brach where I joined, but also each and every other library in the network, which is over ten libraries in total, spreading across the entrire eastern and north eastern suburbs of Adelaide.)
The are linked via their IT too, so I can borrow, order, return at any branch. And they text me when they have the book ready for me. Convenient, much?
The branch closest to home, which is on the main street between school and our house, has recently been extended, refurbished and modernised - it was quite funky in a 1970's way, and I liked it before, with its smoked brown glass and brown bricks. But now it is an utter haven of modern noughties space, design and architecture.
I gave the children an option this week, once day after school - a gelati or a trip to the "new" library. They chose the library with squeals of delight.
This may make them sound like sucky little teachers pet kids - which they are not.
But they know they are onto a treat.
The library has a huge childrens section, complete with story telling tree in the centre.
There is craft materials laid out all the time, to be used as and when inspiration may strike.
The floor is covered in cushions and bean bags and colourful rugs.
There is a bank of ten PC's, just for the kids - all with kids games handily bookmarked.
There is a toddler space which is secure, so that errant littles can be contained whilst parents have two minutes of peace to survey the stacks.
There is rack after rack of music and strory CD's, as well as more kids DVD's than even my family can watch.
There is a separate Toy Library, filled to brimming with all manner of games, puzzles and educational toys.
There are literacy kids as well as as comics and computer games.
And of course, shelves and shelves and shelves of books. As far as the eye can see, books to delight and inspire and captivate and enchant all ages.
There are story time sessions held for all ages literally around the clock - Giggle and Bounce for the babies, Craft & Rhyme for the pre-schoolers, and Jackanory for primary ages.
There are school holiday programs galore - and at this time of year, they are also geared toward Christmas with an imprending visit from Santa.
And that's just the childrens library.
For adults, along with an astounding wealth of fiction and non-fiction, there is also
Newspapers & Magazines
Local History Collection (in it's own gallery)
Public Access Computers
Resource area with free Photocopier Service, Fax Facility & Scanning Facility
CD's, CD Roms, DVD's
Births, Deaths & Marriage Registers
Meeting Rooms for Hire
Seven day Justice of the Peace service
And the price we pay, as a family, for all these amazing facilities that are right on our doorstep?
Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Gratis.
And if that is not value, I do not know what is.
How about you?
Do you have a local library?
Are you a member?
What type of facilities does it offer?
Do you utilise your library?
Do you love a library as much as I do?
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