Libraries have been around for hundreds, even thousands of years. Although for some, libraries may conjure an image of a large dusty building with a stern librarian patrolling telling all to 'be quiet', they are in reality, especially today, so much more than this! I personally believe they are special places that we need to treasure and make full use of.
I vividly remember library visits as a child. My parents brought me up with a love of reading and we often visited the library to stock up on books to read. Our local library had a great kids section, with hundreds and hundreds of colourful books for all ages, plus small colourful tables and chairs to sit and and read for a while.
As I grew older, I used to go to the library myself, and spend ages choosing books to read - both fiction and non-fiction, looking for interesting covers or titles that sparked my interest. I remember searching for books using the 'microfiche' - before computers took their place.
When I finished school and left home, I still visited libraries a lot - in many different countries where I travelled. I borrowed books and also used their computers to access the internet and check my emails, since this is a bookable free service.
Now that we have kids, I'm discovering so much more about how much libraries have to offer. I joined my kids as soon as I could, and have borrowed books to read to them, DVDs for them to watch, audio books for them to listen to and computer games for them to play. The kids sections still have the colourful chairs and tables, and often giant puzzles, and are decorated at various times of the year with colourful pictures and artworks. They are certainly very inviting places for children to visit!
Before they were school age, we would go to the library every week with some friends for the free 'storytime' that was offered. Each week had a theme, with craft for the kids to do and then would finish with the librarian reading a story with the same theme to the kids.
The library also has many competitions - our youngest won movie tickets in their colouring competition at Christmas!, and also other special events such as book author readings and signings.
There is a reading club for the children to join, giving them stickers and newsletters, and a passport to stamp everytime they borrow a book - this is then used to enter more competitions.
Also, our local libraries have given all members free access to an online literacy game website, which deserves a whole other post in itself!
In short - I am impressed, amazed and very grateful for libraries - and all the free resources and services they provide - all of which are serving to encourage our kids to grow up, as I have, with a love of books, reading and learning.
Although information is now so readily available online, and e-books are becoming ever more popular, let's not forget our local libraries! There is something special about having a whole building full of books to have your pick of, then taking your library card up to the counter and checking them out and home with you for a few weeks of reading and exploration.
When was the last time you visited your local library? Do you use your library for more than just borrowing books? Or have you turned to the internet and e-books mostly now?