Why do I need the library?
Do you use your library? While we have plenty of dedicated users, we know there are people out there who don’t think the library is for them. In this post, we want to help show how we can be of use to everyone by busting some common library myths.
Myth 1: Using libraries doesn’t support authors
It’s easy to think that by borrowing a book instead of buying it that you’re costing an author money, and that if you can afford to you should always buy the book instead. However, it’s not as simple as that. Libraries directly support authors in many ways. We’re also an important way to promote a general love of reading within the community.
Fact: Using your library supports authors
Firstly, borrowing a book doesn’t mean you won’t buy a book. If you borrow a book that you love (or just find interesting) you can go out and buy a copy after returning it to the library – and maybe buy an extra or two as gifts while you’re at it.
Libraries also support authors monetarily through the Public Lending Right. PLR acknowledges the right of all book contributors to be paid for the loans of their books through public libraries. This means by borrowing books you are contributing to these payments. You can visit the PLR_UK account on Twitter to see some tweets from authors about how much PLR means to them.
Discoverability is another important way that libraries support authors. When you walk into a library, open an eBook app or browse our online catalogue, you can find books you might not have heard about otherwise. What’s more, you don’t have to buy a book to give it a go. While you may not be willing to take a chance on a new author or genre of book if you have to buy it, you can take that chance by borrowing the book from the library. After all, when borrowing you have nothing to lose!
Discoverability is a great way to discover new authors, genres and book series with no risk at all. You may even discover a new favourite – and if you do, you will then borrow or buy (or both) more of these books, which will support the author in a way you never would have done if not making use of the range your library offers. You can even suggest we buy a title you’re interested in if we don’t already have it.
We also support authors in other ways, such as hosting author events. Overall, using your local library is a great way to support your favourite authors, as well as to discover new authors you may otherwise never have heard of.
Myth 2: I don’t need the library, I have Google/YouTube/Wikipedia
Some people these days don’t understand why we need libraries when we have the internet, particularly for learning or research. As information professionals, we love the access to information the internet has brought – it’s one of the main tools we use to do our job! However, we also know that sometimes a search engine can’t get you the results you want, or in the way you want. This is especially true if what you need is behind a paywall or on the “deep web” (everything on the internet that isn’t indexed by a search engine).
Fact: The library has authoritative information, trained professionals and paid-for tools for free – with no adverts
While we encourage you to use the tools at your disposal – yes, including Wikipedia – we also encourage you to take advantage of our expertise when it comes to information. Librarians are specifically trained to provide you with the best information. The library also pays for access to databases you can’t find for free online. Our online information library is filled with sources written and checked by experts, so you know everything in it can be trusted. It contains access to things like academic journals and newspaper databases you would otherwise have to pay for. Not only is it free to use, because we pay for it you don’t have to sit through adverts, or rely on the goodwill and research skills of unverified contributors to provide correct information.
We also have plenty of non-fiction books on our online catalogue. You may think it’s overkill to read an entire book on a subject when you can just read a few online articles instead. However, there are reasons our non-fiction titles do so well. A full book contains far more information than any number of internet articles. What’s more, a book that has gone through research by the author and overview by a full publishing team is often far more rigorous and trustworthy than an online article or video. Books can also point you in the direction of further material – itself often online.
It isn’t either or – use your own research skills in combination with everything the library offers, and you’ll be able to feed your curiosity, do excellent research and learn a new skill or two. Lifelong learning is a passion of ours and we want to help you with our resources and events.
Myth 3: Libraries don’t offer anything for me
Lots of people love libraries, but don’t have a library card or use the library regularly. They think there’s no reason for them to use the library. Maybe you think libraries are only useful if you have children, or need free internet, or read lots. Maybe you think we’ll judge you for your reading tastes (or for not reading – it’s hard to find the time these days).
Fact: Libraries have something for everyone
First of all: we will never judge you. In fact, we’re thrilled to help you find ways we can be useful to you, especially if it’s a challenge! We offer quick reads; graphic novels; and eAudiobooks for those who don’t have time to sit down and read a physical book. Maybe you just want to read the daily paper; we have an app for that, with unlimited access with your library card (not to mention free magazines on Libby). We even have reading groups where all reading happens during the group, so you don’t need to do anything in advance – perfect for today’s busy lifestyles.
Myth 4: I don’t want to use up the library resources when other people need them more
People are increasingly aware that libraries, like everything, have a limited budget. Some people may try to avoid using the library if not necessary in an attempt to be generous. They hope this will allow other people to benefit more.
Fact: Libraries are for you (and we need your support)
Libraries are a public service. We are there for everyone, and that includes you. Our online resources are already paid for based on our population, so we encourage every single person to use them. We provide enough physical and eBooks for everyone in the Borough. We love it when people book out our events, and if events are popular we’ll look at hosting them again.
Most importantly, we need your support! The more we can show that you use and love your libraries, the more we can provide for you. Far from being a zero-sum game, library use is cumulative; the more you use us, the more support we can show we have. The more support we have, the more attention and funding we can justify using. This means we can continue buying books, online resources, technology and other tools for your use. It also means we can book bigger and better events, designed around what you want to see.
These are just a few of the myths around library use. We hope in busting them we’ve shown you that libraries really are for everyone. If you’ve been inspired, you can join up quickly and easily online. We hope to see you soon!