When was the last time you visited the John Mackintosh Hall library?
I couldn’t believe it, but it was at least 25 years ago for me. I know because I went to make my grandson a member the other day and thought I’d rejoin. It turned out I didn’t have to: I was still registered – at the address of our first home that we moved out of in 1993!
I was pleased to see quite a few school pupils using the facility but I think it’s true to say that with the advent of the Internet and e-readers, libraries have lost some of the relevance they enjoyed in the past.
Which is a shame in my opinion.
There’s a lot to be said for technology. It’s great, for instance, to be able to instantly download a book to your Kindle or highlight a word you’re not familiar with to get its dictionary definition. But there’s something special about losing yourself in a library. Taking time out from your busy schedule to roam among the rows of real, not virtual, books, occasionally taking one off the shelf that piques your interest to see whether you want it as part of your reading material for the next fortnight. It’s similar to the feeling you get when browsing in a good bookshop. I’m glad I rediscovered it.
I think libraries help instil a sense of discipline. At the Mack Hall you can only take out two books at a time, so you have to choose carefully. You can have them for a couple of weeks after which you must return or renew them. And the 10p a day overdue fine won’t break the bank, but for young children it serves as an early lesson of the importance of being responsible.
Our library has kept up with the times too. As a member, with my membership number and password, I can access and browse the catalogue online. I’m able to see what books are out and which are available, and even renew mine with a simple click.
GREAT FOR KIDS
As I explained, the reason for renewing my relationship with the John Mackintosh Hall library was to sign up my grandson. The children’s section is excellent. Besides containing a good selection of books, there are tables and chairs chairs and even a computer to encourage the younger members of our community to spend time in the library itself.
PCs are also available for adults, and other amenities include the daily newspapers, a reference library, audiobooks and a Gibraltar books section. Not to mention the friendly, helpful staff.
If you like reading and, like me, have tended to neglect our venerable public library, do put that right. You won’t regret it.