In a world of streaming, e-readers, and on-demand services, libraries have fallen out of favour in recent years. With other options, people need compelling reasons to sign up to a library.
And until recently, I hadn’t been a member of a library for quite a few years.
But I’m not the only one. In the UK, library usage is down at 33% compared to 48% in 2005.
The good news is that libraries are evolving how they deliver their goods through the use of technology. You don’t even need to go to the library itself if you don’t want to!
So, with this in mind, here are 4 compelling reasons to sign up to a library!
1) It’s Free!
The first of my 3 reasons is simple – it costs nothing to sign up to a library!
In 2019, UK consumers spent a record £3bn on streaming services. And why not? They’re convenient and usually competitively priced. On-demand services are good value and we’re more than happy to pay for them.
So, what if I told you that you didn’t need to spend £7.99 a month of Kindle Unlimited or Audible?
What if you could get the same experience (or better) for free?*
Well, you can! Whether you visit your local library in person, or download their eBooks/audiobooks on-demand (more on that later), you can walk away with something interesting without parting with a penny.
If you’re a book blogger, you’re always looking to get hold of books for as cheap as possible in order to create fresh new content.
And if you’re someone who devours a book a week, it’s not cost-efficient to buy a brand new book every single week. It just isn’t affordable.
When I go shopping, I’m a proper browser. I’ll spend a good half hour in each shop seeing what’s new or what’s on sale. If you’re like me in this respect, you’ll love libraries. You can do the same thing, but without the pressure of having to make a purchase.
So, find your nearest local library and have a poke about. You really don’t have nothing to lose!
*The pedant will argue that you’re paying for public libraries through tax. Well… okay – all the more reason to use them!
2) Impressive Variety of Books (and More…)
You’d be amazed by the vast amount of content your local library offers.
Whether it’s kids’ books, young adult novels, classics, non-fiction, or even academic writing – libraries have a really impressive stock.
Unlike commercial book shops, libraries don’t need to cater to what will sell. So you’re far more likely to find an interesting, diverse collection of books.
And on this point, because it’s free, you’re far more likely to be open to try something new.
For example, I’ve historically been quite sceptical about audiobooks. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the appeal and I do quite enjoy them, but they’re expensive and they don’t last you very long.
You’re also at the mercy of the reader’s voice. No matter how good the book is, if you don’t like the reader’s voice then you’re probably not going to enjoy the experience. And this is a waste of £20 (or your monthly Audible credit).
So, to be able to rent audiobooks from the library is amazing. I’m far more inclined to purchase audiobooks in the future now.
Here’s another thing you might not realise. Libraries offer more than books.
You can borrow CDs and DVDs, and, in some rare cases, video games.
I remember going into Nottingham Central Library a few years ago and picking up a handful of metal CDs – the drive home was awesome!
Find your local library here.
3) BorrowBox – Delivery Direct to your Device!
I cannot enthuse enough about BorrowBox. It’s an absolute game-changer in librarianship.
Public libraries rely on public funding and, as we all know, the Arts are never particularly high on the Government’s list of priorities.
I’d make a speculative guess that the drop off in usage of public libraries is partly down to lack of funding. Whilst Amazon aggressively markets its latest streaming services, libraries had their hands tied when it comes to innovation.
BorrowBox > Kindle Unlimited
As a member of Derby Libraries, I now have access to an unbelievably generous online catalogue of eBooks and audiobooks through the BorrowBox app. At any one time, I can reserve and download a stonking 20 audiobooks and 20 eBooks!
Compare this with Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited service, which costs £7.99pm, whilst ‘only’ offering 10 book rentals at a time (with a very limited audiobook selection, many at additional costs). You’re also unlikely to get any recently released bestsellers on KU either – after all, the ‘big five’ publishing houses are not on-board with Amazon’s service. More on this another time…
Now, okay, who reads 10 books at a time anyway? But that isn’t really the point. The point is this – free public libraries offer better value than a fully paid up subscription service.
Let that sink in.
BorrowBox isn’t without its drawbacks – you local library will typically have limited ‘licenses’ for each eBook/audiobook. So, if what you would like to borrow is on loan then you’ll need to reserve it and potentially wait for a couple of weeks before you can access it.
If you’re part of a reading group, this could be a little frustrating. If you’re not – no drama – just reserve it and read something else in the meantime!
Accessing BorrowBox via your Library
In order to use the BorrowBox service, you must be signed up to your local Library. You can sign up to a library here.
I believe that most UK libraries are part of this scheme. When you download the BorrowBox app, you’ll be able to select your library from a dropdown menu and sign in. When I installed the app a month ago, the library list was enormous, so the chances are, yours will be on there too.
It’s the most innovative thing libraries have done in years and, if marketed correctly, I think this can do amazing things for national literacy.
Give it a try and let me know what you think. I love, love, love it!
4) You’re Helping Authors Get Paid
Did you know about the Public Lending Right?
Essentially, it’s a scheme that means authors get paid per book loan, when their book is borrowed through a public library.
The PLR was brought up in an online discussion by author, Mary Evans.
Speaking about author income, Evans used the example of a book selling at £6.99 to calculate what an author actually takes home per sale.
It’s pretty shocking reading.
Here’s where you come in.
If you rent an author’s book from a public library, they receive a small payment each time (around 8.5p) due to the Public Lending Right. This includes eBooks by the way!
It’s not a replacement for royalties gained from a purchase, but a healthy library community guarantees a fair, regular income for authors.
That’s a pretty compelling reason to sign up to a library.
It’s also worth mentioning that libraries are (usually) relaxing places to hang out.
Need some space away from home? Just want to go somewhere to sit and read, write, or switch off? Try your local library. It’s a free, civic place for you to be creative, or simply kick back and relax.
Convinced yet? UK residents can sign up to a library here.
When was the last time you visited a library? Got a favourite? Share an image below!