Remember those days when you would creep round the library, supervised by the scary librarian who peered menacingly over her glasses if you so much as coughed?
Well, if you think libraries are still like that you would be much mistaken.
Firstly, it’s no longer all about books. CD's, DVD's and computer access probably draw as many people into a library as the written word. There are reading groups, computer training courses, printing and copying services, business information services... the list goes on and on. And with more than a dozen libraries in the borough of Croydon, there is wealth of services and educational facilities available.
Several years ago, an elderly but bright neighbour of mine was bemoaning the fact that her favourite daytime magazine TV shows constantly referred to 'finding it on our website', which she found hugely frustrating, having no computer access and zero IT skills. I mentioned that the library had computer and internet access available to all but she looked decidedly sceptical. I made a few (online!) enquiries and discovered they did basic internet courses for the totally uninitiated and passed the details on to her.
Today she has a laptop that puts mine to shame, Skypes her son in Australia every week, does all her shopping online and a while ago had an old school friend to stay, courtesy of Friends Reunited! I'm pretty sure she indulges in the odd game of online bingo as well!
Call into your local library during school holidays and you will find groups of teenagers with their heads actually stuck in books. Yes, they may use the time socially as well and may, on occasion, make more noise than would have been expected in the library days of old. However, the vast number of reference materials right there on the shelves that they are using – in good old black and white print – proves that even in the most high tech generation we have recognise there are still some things you can only find in books.
Plus whether it be large or small, every library has the children's section, where parents lurk re-living childhood memories, re-discovering old friends (hello Cat in the Hat, hello Teeny Tiny Woman... and I almost cried when I rediscovered Milly Molly Mandy, still in her red and white stripy dress!) The fact is, no matter what TV can provide – and there's some good stuff on there – nothing will ever replace ending the day with a few pages or chapters of your favourite book.
And added to all this our libraries run a wealth of activities and events that cater for all ages. On thebestof Croydon’s Events Page, you will find Saturday Rhymetime, Knit and Natters add Arts Crafts and Computers all happening in the next week or so. Visit the Croydon Libraries website to find dozens more free events to broaden your mind, widen your skills and keep our local libraries flourishing.
Have your say on the future of Croydon’s libraries; take a moment out of your day and vote in the Referendum.