I am a huge fan of the Libraries ACT service. It has served me very well over the last fifteen years. So much so that I happily pay the occasional overdue fine because I am grateful for the service.
The service has a fantastic range of books (print, audio and e version), magazines, DVDs and CDs. And pretty much any search term will uncover a wealth of information. Searching online gives you access to the whole of the Library ACT’s catalogue and you can conveniently have an item sent to your local branch for collection – even if it happens to live on the other side of town.
I’ll warn you though – the website is out of date; there are several things I would like to see changed that would make searching and management of loans easier and more personalised.
Top 4 reasons I love the Libraries ACT service:
1) The deadlines keep my reading on track because I’m focused on ‘getting it done’ before time is up;
2) The deadlines again, ‘force’ me to watch those brilliant but depressing and difficult films that I know will better me. After waiting in line for a number of weeks for my turn I know I just have to ‘do it’ regardless of whether I feel ‘in the mood’ to be depressed or not;
3) I can suggest items for purchase which helps my budget and I’d like to think such requests benefit the wider community in some way too;
4) Trying before I buy keeps my collection, and space, minimalised and organised. I made the conscious decision years ago that I wouldn’t have any DVD or book in my collection that I don’t absolutely love, so if I’ve requested a movie or book from the library more than once I know it’ll be worth investing in having my own copy. (PS: Also, an interesting tidbit, the Australian Government’s Public Lending Right program makes payments to eligible Australian creators and publishers in recognition that their works are being freely used in public lending libraries. Through doing so the program also supports the development of Australian culture by encouraging Australian writing. So there you go!)
I come from a family that have always liked libraries so my library goldmining skills are entrenched. When I travel I put these skills to good use too and I find that not only is it budget savvy but it allows for a different, more local experience of a city. I like identifying the cultural differences in these universal institutions; observing the students studying; the pensioners reading the paper; and the staff busying around, having the occasional tiff. And on those unfortunate rainy days, libraries are also a great place to chill out in; there’s no pressure to buy another drink and there is access to local newspapers and national magazines that are fun to flip through – no language skills required!
When I lived in Dublin I’d often borrow guidebooks from the library before heading off on a trip and it was always a relief to not have to decide whether I’d keep the guidebook for sentimental reasons or not – definitely a relief for my return weight allowance! And often, a public library is a guaranteed spot for computer needs (urgent printing anyone?) and Internet access, something I definitely took advantage of at the New York City’s public library which had the added appeal of being a Sex and the City filming location.
Libraries the world over offer their communities amazing services. I’m truly excited to see how they’ll keep adapting to the world around them and I have no doubt that I’ll be ‘hearting’ libraries for decades to come because of it.