Whether you are looking for answers for yourself or someone else, help is at hand at your local library. When we think of the library, the first thing that comes to mind is a room full of books. But the library is so much more. Today's libraries are physical and virtual hubs, brimming with information, education and opportunities for interaction and community involvement. Here are ten reasons we've found to love the local library.

  1. Community Information

    Your library is a gateway to your local community. Each library has a community noticeboard and information section with posters, postcards and pamphlets offering help and information for people in all manner of situations. Here you can will find details of local support groups,  community organisations, talks, workshops and seminars .

  2. Community hub and meeting place
    The local library holds talks and information sessions on a variety of subjects. During Mental Health Month for example, my local library holds sessions on meditation and wellbeing. And for new arrivals, a regular English conversation class is held. The library is a meeting place for many groups too, from book clubs to local history groups and knitting circles. These groups offer an opportunity to indulge in a hobby whilst engaging in the local community.

  3. Reference materials
    Not just for dictionaries and atlases, the reference collection of the library is a good starting point when you are looking for reliable information that is readily accessible. And the subject range is varied. For example in all NSW public libraries, you will find a collection of legal resources including the Find Legal Answers Tool Kit , a series of easy to read, practical books about the law. Most libraries will also have reference materials for people learning English and useful resources for those wishing to assist them. 

  4. Books
    The cornerstone of any library is its book collection. You will find extensive holdings on any given subject in the non-fiction section, and the Dewy reference system will guide you to the resources you seek. Some of the areas that may be of interest to Lovlist readers are:

    150 - 152 psychology and emotions
    155  death and dying, including bereavement
    306  separation and divorce, co-parenting as well as general parenting
    340's  law
    371  bullying, learning difficulties, study skills
    372  teaching English as a foreign language
    360's  social problems and social services including addiction, caring for elderly parents, and disability
    613  health, exercise and nutrition
    616  cancers, mental illness, learning difficulties, anxiety
    618  parenting and infertility
    641  cooking

    And of course there is fiction in both written and audiobook formats. A great way to escape the troubles of the day with something for all.

  5. Electronic resources and EBooks
    The library has many electronic materials that you can't find through a regular web search. Specialist magazines, journals and full text databases are available through the library gateway.  Some of these resources are for use in the library only but computers and wifi are available for use by library members.

    And then there are Ebooks. Most libraries subscribe to at least one ebook service. The selection of books includes both fiction and non-fiction.  And they're free. You don’t have to worry about getting them back on time or paying late fees as return is automatic. Library websites provide instructions on how to download ebooks and audiobooks to your device. 

  6. Magazines and Newspapers
    Each library chooses which magazines they subscribe to and content is usually tailored to the local community. Most collections will include helpful titles on family, health and cooking and you can borrow the titles just as you would a book . If you are caring for or visiting a sick friend or relative,  you can browse the magazine section to find titles to appeal to their interests. Many magazines are also available to download to a tablet or device via a service such as Zinio, popular in many libraries.
    In addition to magazines, newspapers are also available at the local library. These include not only local and national papers, but also newspapers in a variety of community languages.

  7. Entertainment
    Movies and music can offer a welcome escape for you or someone you care for, or a break from boredom for someone stuck at home or in bed. DVD's and CDs are available to hire at your local library, and unlike the video shop or download service, they are free. Titles will vary but will include something for all tastes.

  8. WiFi and assistance using the internet
    Local libraries offer free Wi-Fi to members and access to computers and printers.  Most also have assistance available to users and many offer classes on internet use, email and researching online.

  9. Home library service
    For people who can't get to the library most councils offer a mobile lending library. The regularity and features of this service will vary between councils, but you can access the service for yourself or someone else by making contact with your local library.

  10. Librarians
    Last but certainly not least, your local librarian can help you to find just what you are looking for.  Professionally trained, librarians know their catalogues, what is popular and what is current and are only too happy to help.