I am an Australian freelance writer living in Adelaide.
Published December 2nd 2011
Woodcroft library had a makeover earlier this year and the results are impressive. Although I never saw what it looked like before, of the six Onkaparinga council libraries, this would have to be the nicest. Due to the cyclone and flooding in Queensland, building of the new council and library building was delayed as parts were due from there but once it opened, the sense of community, evident by the amount of people in there at any one time, is obvious.
Inside the library
As a writer, I am also an avid reader, hence why I work in a book shop. Despite getting a staff discount though, I just can't justify actually buying books. I don't have a bookshelf at home as I don't collect books to maybe read again one day- I read it once and I'm done. Don't get me started on recipe books. There is not one chef/cook whom I would want a whole book of recipes to try out. Instead, I visit local libraries and hire books. Oh, and photocopy my favourite recipes. Many people are surprised to hear I still visit the library. They think it's as out-of-fashion as someone still using the tape deck in their car or getting photos printed out. For me, it's financially useful.
As for the catalogue of books at Woodcroft, unfortunately, it is but a collection of books taken from other Onkaparinga libraries and continues to grow as customers return books borrowed from others. That's the beauty of council libraries in that if the one closest to you doesn't have a title you're after and another one does, it can be transferred for you and you can return it to your local branch.
The best bit about libraries is that they have a budget with which they can purchase new books for hiring. This is the part I'm sure many people don't realise. I'm not sure who orders them but as soon as I unpack a new title at work, I get straight on the website to see if the library has purchased it yet. Often, I'll need to come back to it as I've usually seen the book on its release date and it can take a few weeks for the library to purchase and catalogue it but they get about 70% of the titles I want. Despite hiring being free, libraries really do need to monitor how many holds there are for particular titles. Apparently, there are 27 people ahead of me for Jamie's 30 Minute Meals. Borrower's are allowed three week's duration per hire per item so I can expect to have it in just under two years time unless they hurry up and get some more copies!
I can understand restricted opening hours on a Sunday but I think it's a travesty for the Woodcroft branch to be closed on a Saturday. It is far too demanding for a city office-worker to be able to get to the library by 5.30pm on a weeknight so that only leaves a Thursday night.
If you live in a suburb that has a library, why not pop in next time you're free. You may realise how much you've missed reading and want to get straight back into it, all for free.