Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
Ten Reasons I Love My Library
OK, I’m cheating this week. The topic is supposed to be Ten of the Most Unique Books I’ve Read. But it’s also National Library Week, so I decided to focus on what I love about my public library instead.
First, let me introduce you to my favorite “local” library, the Central Rappahannock Regional Library. The headquarters library is actually a half-hour drive away from my house, but CRRL has branches throughout the surrounding counties (except mine, darn it. Hence my willingness to make the half-hour drive—and pay a yearly $30 fee as a non-resident. My own county’s library is quite small in comparison.)
Here’s what I love about CRRL
Wonderful librarians. Everyone who works there is kind and helpful, and I’ve even made friends with one or two of the librarians I see most often. The reference librarians really know their stuff, and have been able to track down books for me through Interlibrary Loan (ILL) when CRRL doesn’t have a copy.
An extensive collection. Because it has 7 branch libraries in addition to Headquarters, CRRL has an enormous collection of books, audiobooks, and even movies. They have probably 80% of the books I look for, at some branch or another. If I want a book from another branch, I can have it transferred to the Headquarters library and pick it up there.
A good online catalog. Most libraries have an online catalog these days, but some of them are clunky and kind of a pain to use. CRRL’s online catalog is intuitive, visually appealing, and simple to use, making it a cinch for me to search for a title, see whether a book is available, and place a hold request (which will initiate a transfer if it’s at another branch.) I can manage my holds, pausing them if I’m going out of town or have too many other books to read, and reactivating the hold when I’m ready without losing my place in line. I can even tag books I might like to read later, renew my checked-out books before they are overdue, and see my borrowing history. Oh, and I can read other patrons’ reviews, too — or post my own.
No borrowing limit. They have never told me I was checking out too many books — even when I was checking out about 40 (some for me, some for Robin.)
Almost unlimited renewals. As long as no one else has requested the book, I can renew it as often as I want to. This is particularly useful for audiobooks, which take me a while to get through. And again, I can renew them online, without having to call or go to the library.
A pretty good digital book and digital audiobook selection. It’s not as extensive as the print books, and doesn’t always have everything I want to read, but when it does, it’s quite useful. I can have a Kindle book sent to my Kindle library, and have three weeks to read it. Not bad! And of course, I can access the ebooks and audio downloads from anywhere in the country, even when I’m on vacation.
Fabulous biannual booksales and a small but useful “bookstore” in most branches. The Friends of the Library organization runs the twice-a-year booksales and the year-round bookstores (usually a bookcase filled with the better or more popular titles in good condition.) The Headquarters booksales are huge; I almost always come home with 20 to 30 books, sometimes as many as 40 or 50 (but some of them are for Robin.) There is also a summer sale of fiction only. And when I need to prune my books and get rid of some, I simply take them to the library and donate them for the next sale. If the library sees a book they want, they have first dibs; otherwise, everything goes onto the sale shelves or the biannual sales. I usually volunteer to cashier for a few hours for the big biannual sales, which go on for about 5 days.
Great programs, from summer “Music on the Steps” concerts at Headquarters to talks and signings by local or regional authors (including Maggie Stiefvater!), programs on local history or on doing genealogy, book clubs, writing groups, activities for children and teens, and even knitting groups. Several times, they’ve brought in authors from outside our local area, like Susanna Kearsley (twice!), Deanna Raybourn, and Joanna Bourne. In February, they brought in Margot Lee Shetterly, the author of Hidden Figures — and had so much interest, they had to ask the local university to donate the use of their 1000-plus-seat theater/auditorium. (And it was packed!)
Self-catering holds and self-checkout. I love interacting with the librarians, but it’s also useful to be able to pick up my holds and check them out myself, especially when I’m in a hurry.
“Suggest a Title.” CRRL has an online form where you can suggest titles you would like them to get. Whether they buy it depends on their budget, but they often do.
Why do you love your library?