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Libraries around the world

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message 1: by Trike (last edited Sep 29, 2017 06:37AM) (new)

Trike | 8315 comments Over the years various S&L members from across the planet have mentioned their libraries in passing, and I'm fascinated by the contrast of how things work in other countries versus the US.

This came up yesterday in the October book thread where I asked Dominik about his library:

Dominik wrote: "Germany. I checked, in my town it's 38 Euros per year (28 with a student discount), which adds up to 3-ish a month. Still a lot to pay all at once. It does come with a bunch of perks, though, like free evening classes and access to the 3D printer, so I've been considering it."

€38 is roughly $45 US, but I'd pay that.

In the US we don't have to, since libraries are supported by taxes. (I probably pay $5 a year in late fines anyway, which I don't mind.) Libraries offer free concerts, free talks and free classes. (I've taught a few myself: video production, film history, how to make bracelets, animal rescue. I've filmed many more, from wildlife encounters to astronomy lectures to quilting.) We have 3D printers, we can check out various telescopes, board games... all sorts of non-book things.

Where do you live and how does your library work?


message 2: by Travis (last edited Sep 29, 2017 07:28AM) (new)

Travis Foster (travismfoster) I live in Philly, where the library is called the Free Library because it was chartered in 1891 as "a general library which shall be free to all." They have most everything I want in one of the multiple libraries, but it can take weeks and weeks for a book to move from a library across town to the one in my neighborhood. Because I work in the suburbs (and pay some small taxes to the township of my employer), I also have a card there. The Haverford, PA library in particular has a huge sci-fi/fantasy section where things seem to be always in stock.


message 3: by Lena (new)

Lena My library has Read to Dogs! evenings for kids to practice their skills on receptive, wag tail, audiences.


message 4: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 995 comments I'm surprised to hear you have to pay for library access in Germany (albeit €38 a year sounds very reasonable).
Here in the UK libraries are supported by taxes and free to use for the basic services - stuff like audio book loans and inter-library transfers costs a modest fee. Where I live, in Derbyshire, the service is currently excellent- but facing cuts (insert political rant here). At my local library the staff are potentially about to lose their jobs and be replaced by untrained volunteers. Hrmph.


message 5: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 3917 comments *cough*

I blogged about libraries just about a week ago, right here on Goodreads. It's like Trike is reading my mind...

https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog...


message 6: by Paul (new)

Paul  Perry (pezski) | 489 comments I do fe privileged to live in the UK with our free at the point of use libraries (and other public services; like Ruth, I shall refrain from a political rant about funding cuts). I don't use my library nearly as much as I should - I'm luckily enough to live a five minute walk from a decent branch library, housed in a 19th century nouveau riche mansion in the local park. While the selection there is limited due to size, any book I'm the city library system can be collected there, usually within 48 hours if it's available, and the national inter-library loan system is pretty good.

I've just found out that we've also joined the 21st century and now have an ebook and audio book catalogue, of which I will be making use.

What are school libraries like where you are? It wouldn't even have occurred to me to ask but I listened to a podcast a while back about the US education system (I think it was This American Life). They followed some students who were on a exchange from a poor (mostly black and latin) New York school to a wealthy, mostly white, school, only a few miles away. Among the many things that shocked me where, when talking about the posh school, one of the students said in awe "they even have a library."

I was just gobsmacked. You can have a school WITHOUT a library?


message 7: by Malaraa (new)

Malaraa | 89 comments Why school libraries vary so widely could lead to a side-tracking rant much like funding cuts could, and for a lot of the same reasons.

While I always had libraries in my schools growing up, I did know people from areas where there were small "all ages schools" (where there aren't enough students locally to divide up by age group) and their school library was a couple bookshelves in one of the rooms, plus visits from the county library's Bookmobile.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bookmobile
Link for anyone unfamiliar with Bookmobiles. :)

For regions where the next nearest town might be only 5 miles away, but you have to drive for 45 minutes to get up, down, and around the mountainsides, rivers, and train tracks to get there, they are very very useful! Plenty of poorer areas that couldn't afford to support a branch of their own can be serviced.


message 8: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (new)

Tassie Dave | 3511 comments Mod
I was lucky growing up that, for a small remote mining town, we had fairly well stocked community and school libraries.

I still have a library card for that same local library, but I only use it to access the excellent online resources that the Tasmanian government has made available.

The actual library has only a fraction of the books they once had.


message 9: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 3917 comments Tassie Dave wrote: "The actual library has only a fraction of the books they once had. "

Thing is, the library doesn't need as many physical books as before. Reference works are largely online. Fiction is more accessible and more easily handled as ebooks. The library remains a source of information even with a change to the setup. Then there's the ancillary, community oriented services which are very popular, at least around my area.


message 10: by Shad (new)

Shad (splante) | 345 comments I loved living close to enough to a library that I could ride my bike there when I was growing up. It was a combination public library and school library. It is not used as a public library anymore. I wonder if it would be too much of a security risk nowadays. My summers used to involve regular trips for more reading material.


message 11: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (j-boo) | 322 comments There is a library less than a mile from my house. Only this year, when I started to try to add more physical activity to my day to help combat depression, did it even OCCUR to me to walk the short distance. I've since made that walk dozens of times, and it's wonderful! Of course, if the book haul is big enough (aka too many books to carry), I would drive instead. But that's usually not the case. And if I'm just going to return a book or two, I bring the dog along for the walk since I can just drop the books into the outdoor book return bin. If I have to go inside to pick up a book, sadly the pooch has to stay home.

Our library has movie showings, kids activities, some concerts, crafting, and looking at their calendar now I even see a flu shot clinic scheduled. It's rooms are also used as meeting places for things such as weight loss groups, historical societies, etc etc.

Yay for libraries!


message 12: by Trike (new)

Trike | 8315 comments Jessica wrote: "There is a library less than a mile from my house."

If that were the case for me, I know where I'd be spending half my free time. Maybe more. :)


message 13: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (new)

Tassie Dave | 3511 comments Mod
Trike wrote: "Jessica wrote: "There is a library less than a mile from my house."

If that were the case for me, I know where I'd be spending half my free time. Maybe more. :)"


Everything in my town is less than a mile from my house ;-)

I did live in the library when I was younger


message 14: by Trike (new)

Trike | 8315 comments Pictured, Dave's hometown:




message 15: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Morgan (elzbethmrgn) | 274 comments Tassie Dave wrote: "Everything in my town is less than a mile from my house ;-)"

Same here, in my rural Australian town. (This suits me, petrol is more expensive out here but I also don't need to run a car more than once a week)

My library is ostensibly free, but due to budget cuts and mergers the on-site collection is diminished and there is a fee for getting the books in from a different branch - a fee that is the same as picking something up in a Kindle Daily Deal, which I'm more likely to do. The children's books section is huge, though, and my Kidling has gained a lot of mileage out of it.

But we spend a lot of time in the library for non-book reasons. It is a good walking-distance from home (or on the way home from school), they have an excellent DVD collection, the space is an excellently-lit and comfortable place to work, and they run a lot of kid-friendly activities. And the librarians tolerate me trying to make awkward conversation!


message 16: by Kim (new)

Kim | 477 comments My hometown in Australia had two public library systems as it was two cities mixed together. So I could ride to both and get double the books, as well as my school's small library.

As I got older I stopped using it as much as they weren't very good at keeping up with the times, though the two cities eventually became one and the libraries joined together.

Here in the US my local library system has an awesome ebook collection and it's rare I can't find the book I want. I sometimes have to wait a while but I'm never without books to read.


message 17: by Trike (new)

Trike | 8315 comments When you guys say "rural Australia" are you talking Darwin-type rural where there's nothing in the vicinity for what seems like hundreds of miles?

Seriously, could Darwin BE any further from anywhere? /chandlerbing


message 18: by Kim (last edited Oct 04, 2017 12:07PM) (new)

Kim | 477 comments Trike wrote: "When you guys say "rural Australia" are you talking Darwin-type rural where there's nothing in the vicinity for what seems like hundreds of miles?

Seriously, could Darwin BE any further from anywh..."


Darwin isn't that remote. It's pretty close to Indonesia. Now Perth. That's remote. Or generally anywhere in Western Australia.

My hometown is about 13 hours drive away from the nearest larger city. The nearest small towns were an hour away. Though here in Seattle thanks to traffic everything is an hour away :(


message 19: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (new)

Tassie Dave | 3511 comments Mod
Trike wrote: "When you guys say "rural Australia" are you talking Darwin-type rural where there's nothing in the vicinity for what seems like hundreds of miles?"

My town has 1500 people. 4000 people within 100 miles (any direction)
That's not uncommon by Australian standards, but is pretty strange because I'm on an island that has 500,000 people ;-)


message 20: by Trike (new)

Trike | 8315 comments Kim wrote: "Darwin isn't that remote. It's pretty close to Indonesia. Now Perth. That's remote. Or generally anywhere in Western Australia."

Good point. I was thinking too narrowly about the continent. Although present-day Darwin is also somehow existing in a timeslip from 30 years ago, so it's remote in that way, too.

Coincidentally, my Facebook Memories popped up just now to remind me that 4 years ago today I was getting ready to leave Cairns for Sydney, then onto Dallas. We had to get to the Cairns airport in the middle of the dark and the flight status board simply said, "Relax." :D

I bought my young cousin Darwin a shirt from there and his dad said he still wears it all the time, to the point where it has some holes in it. I replied, "Holes?! That shirt cost me $12,000!"


message 21: by Trike (new)

Trike | 8315 comments Tassie Dave wrote: "My town has 1500 people. 4000 people within 100 miles (any direction)
That's not uncommon by Australian standards, but is pretty strange because I'm on an island that has 500,000 people ;-) "


::: looking at map :::

Oh, yeah, that's a lot of empty. Nice living next to a park that size, though.

Looking at the photos linked from the map, it looks exactly like a Colorado mining town, like Crested Butte. The football field is different, but other than that....

I want to get back down there at some point to see Tasmania, Western Australia and the south, as we did the Gold Coast and northern territories on our last visit.


message 22: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Morgan (elzbethmrgn) | 274 comments Trike wrote: "When you guys say "rural Australia" are you talking Darwin-type rural where there's nothing in the vicinity for what seems like hundreds of miles?

Um, I'm pretty close to everything, but it's still technically rural because it's country/farming territory - my town's population is around 7000. I live in touristy wine country, but it's still only an hour to a city (with all the mod-cons like bookstores and coffee chains), & around three hours to Melbourne. It's not remote - that's a whole other category!


message 23: by Qukatheg (new)

Qukatheg | 25 comments My local library (in the Netherlands) charges €53 for a basic membership. Not exactly cheap. And since their selection in the genres I enjoy isn't great, I'd have to reserve/order a lot of books from other libraries (at €2-4 per book). Seeing as I read hundreds of books a year, those extra costs would add up fast, so I decided not to join.
It's much cheaper to buy books online or in second-hand stores and sell them when I'm done reading :)


message 24: by Lena (new)

Lena Damn!


message 25: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 995 comments Qukatheg wrote: "My local library (in the Netherlands) charges €53 for a basic membership. Not exactly cheap. And since their selection in the genres I enjoy isn't great, I'd have to reserve/order a lot of books fr..."

I'm surprised to hear how expensive it is - I think of the Netherlands as a place which is generous with its public services. Obviously - at least in the case of libraries - I'm misinformed.
Here in the UK basic membership is free and inter-library transfers are only 40p per book (within the Derbyshire system).


message 26: by Louie (new)

Louie (rmutt1914) | 878 comments I've mentioned how much I love my local library several times in other S&L threads. Pretty much every thing I read these days, I get from my library. I am there at least once a week. Mostly comic books/graphic novels, as of late. And there is a wide selection. Although, the majority, if not all, of the books I read are titles I have personally requested my library to purchase and add to their catalog, which they do more often than not. If they don't have it in stock, I can request it through the interlibrary loan system from any library in the US that also participates, which I have done many times now. All for free, mind you.


message 27: by Trike (last edited Oct 06, 2017 12:42PM) (new)

Trike | 8315 comments Qukatheg wrote: "My local library (in the Netherlands) charges €53 for a basic membership. Not exactly cheap. And since their selection in the genres I enjoy isn't great, I'd have to reserve/order a lot of books fr..."

Ouch. Sounds more like video rentals than the libraries I'm used to.

It's interesting , but ouch.


message 28: by Allison (new)

Allison Hurd | 226 comments Do y'all have "take a book leave a book"? They're everywhere around where I live, despite the well stocked, free libraries that roam around. My work has one, the grocery stores have them, even cute little neighborhood ones, though I haven't stopped by any. I feel like if I had to pay $70ish for my library, I'd be a much more active take/leave a booker.


message 29: by Lena (new)

Lena Oh yeah, those are adorable and you can find the wildest things.


message 30: by Silvana (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) | 1618 comments The closest public library from home (that I know of) is 15 km away. Recently, there was a good news that we now have a 27-story national library. According to the news, it is the tallest library building in the world. Anyway, still far away from my house.

I also heard there will be e-book lending system. Let's see how it goes. The new library has just been opened on October 6th.

Qukatheg wrote: "My local library (in the Netherlands) charges €53 for a basic membership. Not exactly cheap. And since their selection in the genres I enjoy isn't great, I'd have to reserve/order a lot of books fr..."

That is expensive.
I went to a public library at Rotterdam and they gave out books freely. A person can leave and bring two home (without having to leave books). No charge, no membership. Mostly in Dutch but I managed to grab some in English.


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