Very slightly inspired by a recent blog post by Joss Winn:
A couple of things have reminded me recently that it might be useful to describe how I use libraries.
Historical interlude: my first experience of libraries would have been in visting Cullercoats/North Tyneside Central public libraries in the ’80s. After moving down to Lincolnshire, I borrowed books from Horncastle public library (more on which later), and used my secondary school’s Jobson Library (named after local benefactor George Jobson).
As an undergraduate, I didn’t use APU’s university library all that much. I remember, vaguely, a library induction talk in a large lecture theatre. I used to cycle in to campus early and read their newspapers before my first lecture. Over three years, I might have borrowed a handful of books (not really course-related) and a few music scores. And occasionally used the study carrels to work on maths assignments, when I really needed to concentrate.
Overall, looking back, it was a bit of a missed opportunity. I didn’t understand the value of the campus library: at the time I was much more excited by our course lab and studio facilities, and by the Sinclair computing centre, which gave me my first taste of the Internet, email, IM, Yahoo! and Lycos, web design and HTML, and which stayed open until 9pm (I remember being surprised and impressed by that; just as I was by the first 24-hour garage I found in Cambridge. Such things did not exist in rural Lincolnshire).
After having worked as a librarian at the University of Lincoln for a few years, I made a slightly better stab at using the services of the Robert Gordon University’s Georgina Scott Sutherland Library while I was studying there for my MSc. Because Aberdeen is a long way away, I never actually visited the library in person (I still haven’t), but I made heavy use of both their e-resources and their postal loans service.
Now, in 2010, I regularly use the services of four libraries:
- Horncastle public library, which is ten minutes’ walk from my front door. My children go there every week for storytime and activities. From time to time, I check my LibraryThing wishlist against the Lincolnshire County Council ‘Virtual Library‘, and reserve books to read on the bus. (What would be really nice would be if I could point my LCC library account at an RSS feed of my LibraryThing wishlist, and be alerted when a new title becomes available). And I’ve recently been getting into researching my family history, for which the public library’s online access to Ancestry is invaluable. Horncastle library has also been a great place to work ‘from home’ when the roads have been bad this winter. I’ll be pleased when they upgrade from IE6, though.
- I’ve also joined Essex public libraries. I was tipped off about them by a colleague: they don’t require that you be resident in Essex to join, and they have a very good collection of e-books (Lincolnshire public libraries don’t do e-books, yet). I think I might also still be a member of East Riding Libraries, from when I lived in Beverley in the East Riding of Yorkshire.
- As I mentioned last week, I often base myself in the British Library when I’m in London: because it’s so close to King’s Cross and St Pancras railway stations; because they offer decent, free wi-fi; because there’s always an exhibition to see; and because there’s plenty of coffee to hand.
- Last but not least, the 5 libraries of the University of Lincoln – because that’s where I work.
Libraries I’d like to visit include the Ward Library, Henry Bloom Noble Library, and Castletown Library (all on the Isle of Man), the Lit & Phil in Newcastle, and Cambridge University Library.