The library reopened this week!
It had been closed since the end of October, not even available for Click and Collect, or to drop off finished books. Our COVID numbers have been really high all winter, and of course I entirely understand the need for everyone to stay safe. I can live without if it means my librarians stay safe.
But on Monday, at 1pm (the official opening time) I was in the queue for the library, along with quite a number of people, actually. Moms with kids, grandmas and grandpas, young people like me, and middle-aged folks, some with their bikes chained to the railing outside. Most of us with piles of books to hand back in. I can live without the library, but I was so so glad to see it reopen – and to see so many people looking forward to it, enough to queue!
I’m writing this on Friday, and I’ve been there twice since: once yesterday night and once today. Mostly because their request services have restarted too, and it means I get emails when my book arrived. And I got one just as I got back home last night, from the library. And it’s always a pleasure to go back, the staff is lovely, the shelves are large and full of all kinds of books for all ages, and there’s a kind of atmosphere you can only find in libraries
And it’s not like the library left us stranded in those six months where it was closed, either! They’ve got amazing online services, through BorrowBox, where I can get up to 5 audiobooks and up to 5 ebooks at any given time. The audiobooks got me through first lockdown last year – I never knew I could love audiobooks, but I couldn’t gather the spoons to read paper books, and I thought, why not try? It’s free!
What also amazes me here in Ireland, is that I can get any book from anywhere in the country. If one library has it, I can get it! I’ve always loved libraries, since I was a kid, but the inter-library loan was never easy, or free. Here, I just log in on the website, look up a book, and boom! I can request it in two clicks and receive it in my local branch. Not just from across Dublin library: I’ve read books from Kerry, from Galway,… from big cities and small towns. All for free!
I did a bit of math last year, and I saved something like 500€ in books through the library. In an absolutely legal way, that pays back the authors. And this is only the services that I use. They also offer newspapers, comicbooks, online dictionaries, books in all kinds of languages (and language learning books and CDs!) and DVDs too. But they also have book clubs, and exhibits, and themed book displays, and internet access, and people to help you with certain paperwork. The library is one of the few places where you don’t need money to access services, and there is no judgement.
A library card is almost the first thing I got when I moved to Dublin a few years ago, and it has served me so well ever since. I’m really thankful for all the librarians, and the work they do to make books — and culture — available for free, for everyone who wants it!