Sounds silly, but I don’t think I’ve been in a library for ten years. I was thinking of joining my local one, but it doesn’t look so great. Can I join a different one?
Yeah, we know your local library may look like it’s been stocked with paperbacks from that holiday house your parents rented in the 1980s, but it’s still worth joining. Especially since it’s free. You'll actually be joining all the libraries in your borough, and you can use some in other boroughs as well. (Check with the branch ahead of time.) You’ll need to produce proof of address to show you’re a local taxpayer, and they'll give you your very own library card to cram in the back of your wallet!
In 2000, the London Libraries Development Agency was formed to improve the quality of services at the Capital’s libraries and help them move into the age of electronic information. Already they have raised millions in private funding and expanded public libraries’ outreach, especially in literacy programs and to immigrant communities. But if you’re just looking for a book to read on the way to work, don’t worry, they still do that too.
If you need more convincing, we’ll point out the library’s huge advantage over most high street bookstores: the librarian. Do not be afraid of her/him. "The most important part of our job is serving our patrons," a librarian friend of ours says, getting excited at the prospect of it. "If you come in for the new Ian McEwan or Harry Potter, it might be checked out, but there are lots of other great books waiting to be read!" Ah, bless. And she sensibly adds that if you don’t like a book or can’t finish it, there’s no need to feel bad because you haven’t spent anything.
To find the library nearest you, visit London Libraries.org.