Libraries and elibraries
Libraries were my go-to place as a child and young adult. And to an extent still are. Even now I note where the local library is in relation to where I live, work or visit frequently.
Before the internet it was the only place you could get books for free, find out about new releases and talk about reading to someone interested in the subject.
My interest in mythology, history, and science fiction stem from regular visits as a child. It also ignited my interest in new genres and authors through attractive book displays and librarian knowledge.
Roll forward a few decades and I don’t read as much as I did, nor do I visit libraries in person as often as I did. Yet when I do I am always entranced by something thrilling – a great find on the book sale trolley, the discovery of a new author or book in a beloved series. It is always well worth the visit.
Instead, my go-to place has morphed to the elibrary and secondly Amazon because I have a Kindle (and sample chapters are really useful in comparison to a book blurb to gauge whether it will be a book that I enjoy).
Why the elibrary? The benefits for me are primarily convenience, probably because inherently I’m lazy. As my twitter feed from way back states – you can choose new books from the convenience of your bed – there’s nothing not to like in that. Searching for new books and catching up with authors with the assistance of the internet (Google or Wikipedia) is a great pleasure. Coupled with the immediate access – no waiting until a physical building’s opening hours – and let’s not forget the automated return, which is king.
I have spent too much money on late fees. The dread used to be palpable when I asked the cost of the fine. Inside I would be screaming on hearing the answer
"WHAT!?! How much? I could have bought the book in hardback for that price!"
Now that is a thing of the past, I enthusiastically pat myself on the back (rather than weep piteously) in smug consolation and rose-tinted memories, that those many financial hits were worth it: those funds likely went to the upkeep of the local library which like many were and still are struggling with footfall and funding.
I use the e-library a lot more, to place holds on books, read reviews, listen to snippets or read sample chapters. I like reading on my kindle or even phone as then I don’t have to faff around trying to locate the book, remembering the last page I read and consider if I’d changed my mind about my interest in the plot or characters. As that can all be noted in an ebook.
Please don’t think I’m rubbishing books. I like holding books, like the smell of old books. I also like going online and reserving a book to collect at the library. The accessibility of having your library online and an also an e-library is such a bonus.
And anyway, it’s not one or the other. You can love two things at the same time.
What I do hate is minor things such as waking up with a book-shaped crease on my face or a painful back because I’ve fallen asleep whilst reading in bed. But those are on me, my idiosyncrasies.
So I’m all for books in all formats but with a preference for eBooks.
And don’t get me talking about the pleasure of audiobooks. I don’t listen that often as I find, I really do have to pay attention especially at the beginning, otherwise it turns into background muzak. So unlike skimming through a book, as even then, I still retain an understanding of plot and characters.
Nonetheless, when I do have the time to start an audiobook and get the know the characters, it’s a fabulous adventure from the comfort of the car or the sofa. I listened to 1984 by George Orwell probably a year or two ago and was broken by it, the pathos was profound and vibrated throughout. So very well read by Andrew Wincott.
This week is library week and my support is strictly lowkey with a couple of social media posts and a visit on the weekend.
The elibrary will continue to surprise me whenever I log on with what’s available and be pleasantly agreeable via email. Yesterday I was pleased to receive an email with the subject ‘…elibrary digital hold automatically borrowed’
What’s not to like?