please empty your brain below

Sadly due to the unsavoury characters which frequented my library I have not been to the library for years.
I'm wondering if your use of the word thrid was a typo or if you're a fan of The Burkiss Way.

dg writes: Both. And fixed, cheers.
My local library is on the 3rd floor of a modern building in the town centre.(Lifts available). It is popular not for its books but people visit to use the public toilets by the library lobby..
The magazines and newspaper section always seems busy, as are the computers, and no doubt many are using the free wifi.
I have been to the library about 3 times this year as they often have talks or films in one of their two large meeting rooms.
There are plenty of books available and also DVD's and CD's.
There is no cafe in my local branch but the boroughs main library does have one.
I have not logged on to my library account for years and will try to shortly and see if I still have the log in details.
If not I shall visit my local library later today to enquire as the library is in same building as a medical centre and I have a 'flu jab booked for today.
As for borrowing books I very occasionally do so but I am always worried that I might forget or not be able to return them on time, and that puts me off a little.
I should add that when I was living at my Spanish home I also visited the library there, as they had English newspapers.
Another English chap I know who lives in Spain permanently goes to the library there every few days and plugs his electric bicycle into their power socket!
Our library service has been slightly whittled away, and only jazzed-up in some of the ways which DG presents, and I do have some difficulty remembering to take books back. But regardless, I will take the hint and get using it more. It is still a wonderful facility.

Though I hope that nationally libraries haven't spent too much time or money dreaming up daft new names. Or if they have, that there is some proper research showing that a daft new name really does have some benefit.
Well I have logged in at first attempt, and I was able to see my loan history, last time I borrowed a book was in 2013. (After dg had reviewed a book) I will try and use the libray more.
how about some more book recommendations dg.
Remembering to return items was easy enough, I used to write a note on the calender. But now,thanks to joining the online service, I get an automated e-mail the day before the due date.
Of course there are always hiccups with this service. Twice I have been told to return books that I haven't got! 🙁
I LOVE libraries and always have. As a child, the library was a peaceful refuge from occasionally difficult circumstances. I would sometimes be left in the library during school holidays when my mum had to work, and to pass the time I read stuff that otherwise I wouldn't have come close to.
I introduced my own children to the library when they were young, but their use of these wonderful places diminished as they got older, and discovered search engines.
Now I have the time, I visit the library at least weekly, normally having searched and ordered books from home via the excellent online system.
However, I was shocked to learn recently that many of our smaller libraries - which typically open 4 hours a day - are manned by unpaid volunteers. Otherwise, so I'm told they would have disappeared long ago!
Use it or lose it.

As well as being a member of the local library service where I live, which I use rarely, I work in London and also have membership of the City of London libraries (Guildhall, Barbican, etc) which is very good. Lots of online content (which they call "eResources") - ODNB, OED, newspaper archives, etc - and eBooks, eAudio, eMagazines, etc etc. Also renewals online, so borrowing for 3 weeks can turn into 6 or 9 or longer.

As a university alumnus, I also get JSTOR (an online archive of academic journals), and could be a member of the university library (with borrowing rights) if I was there often enough for it to make sense.
Tower Hamleters might enjoy the Writeidea Festival at the Whitechapel Idea Store in a couple of weekends time, where you can listen to top authors like Ann Cleeves, Jan Blake, Dan Cruickshank and Ben Aaronovitch for free.
I use the selfservice library machines because there are few options available so not much can go wrong, but so far I'm very wary of selfservice options elsewhere like banks and supermarkets and have refused to use them.
But I've found that library systems differ, if I have with me a (legally issued) book from Westminster while I visit a library in Essex, it sets off their alarm as I leave and I have to produce it to show I'm not stealing anything of theirs.
But I've always found libraries useful, it's disappointing how some boroughs are closing them.
Following a recent DG post, I used the library system to reserve the excellent "William Heath Robinson" by James Hamilton.

I support the idea of using this forum to share recommendations of books that are strictly relevant to the current topic - be it buses, architecture, the underground, walking, etc.
Love this post!
Did you know DG your TH library card also enables you to borrow books from other participating London Boroughs?
I like to support my local library by getting my photocopying done there. The staff in the print shop are miserable; the library's prices are slightly cheaper; and I like to think that my money is helping to keep the library going in my town.
With local libraries it's a case of use it or lose it these days I'm afraid..
Lucky you. Here in Germany most libraries charge an annual fee. My local one now wants 38€ a year (children free). I haven't been there for a long time.
Libraries do cost money here in the Netherlands €28 per year.

My local library does have CD's Dvd's and all the newspapers from all of the EU. Books are also in at least 6 foreign languages, plus you can special order from other branches.
There are computers, coffee bars, study rooms.
All this in a small provincial town of 90,000.

As a contrast to the dismal news most days*, this article gave me a warm glow.

* I mean dismal news generally, not DG's wonderful blog.
If you are a resident of Tower Hamlets and a member of the library, sorry, Idea Store, you can visit the Tower of London for £1. Quite the deal.
All agreed. In my borough, to cut costs overall, the two largest libraries have each had a Customer Service Centre squeezed in beside the books and PCs. I don't know the effect on the number of people using those libraries; when they were closed I got out of the habit of going there and am ashamed to admit haven't been back yet.

The online system here used to include the feature of showing you your borrowing history, which was very useful if you were working your way through the books of a prolific author.
That feature suddenly disappeared though when the council changed their back-end systems some years ago.
Bob L-S: only the far end of the ground floor has been converted at the Central Library (haven't been to the other one yet). Slightly less bookstock.
The borrowing history was restored a year or so ago.
Does anyone else find it slightly creepy that Gordon seems to know (or thinks he knows) where Bob L-S lives?
That's exactly what I was wondering, Michael, it would be helpful to know which library you mean. During my travels around London I often use libraries, apart from book lending they are useful places for me to read the papers while having a needed sitdown. And nowadays they provide public toilets too.
I specially recommend the Bishopsgate Institute and the reference library just off Leicester Square.
Michael Churchill: Bob L-S is a contributor, like me, to a neighbourhood forum, so I recognised the post(er) straight away.
And no, I won't be looking up 'Michael Churchill', don't you worry yourself about that.
I go into my local library at least once a week. I have no problem with the self service machine but always prefer to use the human option.

I have always assumed that by doing this I am helping someone stay employed. Does anyone know if this is the case, or am I in fact keeping them from doing some ultra important work?
God, you lot are lucky. Round here (West Berks) the Tories made a failed attempt to close all but the main one in Newbury, thwarted legally on that front now they want to sack most of the staff and use volunteers in all but the main one. Our MP, the richest guy in Parliament, hasn't even bothered to ascertain why our council was the 3rd hardest hit in the country by way of budget cuts.
An excellent post and nice to think it might be read by enough people to boost library usage in a small way. One disappointing thing about libraries in this age of council cutbacks is the gradual disappearance of magazines and periodicals. Surrey libraries for instance no longer buy any magazines, just a few newspapers. I've not tried the electronic versions which libraries offer nowadays but, in any case, reading on a screen is not the same as browsing among a wide range of periodicals in a good old-fashioned reading room. Also they tend to be hobby and lifestyle magazines rather than say the Spectator, New Statesman or Private Eye.

Also, in this age of privacy concerns, I find it amusing that people never seem to be concerned about how much information the authorities could potentially find out about a person just by looking through the electronic history of all the books they have ever borrowed...!
A very nice piece, a shame our local library doesn't look anywhere near as aesthetically pleasing!
DG thanks for a great advertisement for our library services. They are one of the greatest and most amazing institutions that have ever been created and we are fortunate to still have them . Everyone one should use their local library and so save all of them from ever having the threat of closure hanging over them. Even the Conservatives in Richmond have made our libraries great place to go!
> just by looking through the electronic history of all the books they have ever borrowed...!

Just the last six months for most libraries

The Data Protection Act requires a good reason for retaining personal data, this seems reasonable.
DG and readers, you don't need your PIN, but your library card number with prefix (TH for Tower Hamlets) will give you access to the BIG OED Online from home (see Online reference on the web site). This is updated monthly. library signon

And I only buy books if I expect to read them twice or the library doesn't have them (like _Man Walks Into a Pub by Pete Brown).
Huge supporter of my libraries, but unfortunately cutbacks in 2014 saw the closure of 40% of them in the same month!
So now the buildings stand empty and an entire section of the borough is no longer served.
I myself went to the library that was my 'local' ten years ago. Whilst it used to be a bit tatty around the edges and full of brown furniture at least it had things in it that I wanted. Now it has had a revamp - pride of place being given to the swanky self service kiosks that you have to navigate around to get in - the library staff have been shoved to a wall bounded edge - out of sight and useless to the clientele.

(Whilst I was perusing the 'new books' stand by the RDF security arch near the entrance a patron went through sending the alarm off. Did anyone come to investigate... no they didn't - partly, I assume, is that they assumed the body standing near the security thing set it off - not the person they could not see leaving).

So, I navigate round the stripped down shelves and find absolutely nothing of the remotest interest to me. Where had all the interesting stuff gone???? I know there are e-resources but hey are not especially unique - like @Andrew I regularly use other libraries and actively use JSTOR and such like because there are no other apparent benefits of my having attended university apart from the access it gives me as an alumna.

I wail at the resources lost....I recall only too well the devastation caused to the library stock in Waltham Forest when I lived there too. Well designed, readable and finely illustrated books are not found in e-resources. I hate this 'it has to be digital otherwise you can't have it' attitude, it stinks. Nevertheless, glad that you have re-acquainted yourself with your local library DG.
There is a book called: "The Library Book". Recommended reading for anyone who loves/likes libraries and for those who may not 'get' what libraries are 'about'.
Tower Hamlets opened a new library. What an enlightened place you live in.
I am a frequent visitor at my local (US) library--so much so that the librarians know me by name. As DG described, our libraries offer not only books, but also DVDs, CDs, books on playback (just need a pair of headphones to listen), reference services, etc., etc.. One lifesaver for me are books on CDs since I commute a 100 miles a day and couldn't survive the d@mn drive without being able to listen to a good book by a good narrator--and it is critical to have a good narrator. We also have online access where we can reserve regular books, or download ebooks and audio books onto a variety of devices. All for 21 days at a time with up to four 21 day auto renewals if no one else has reserved it. Amazing for someone who remembers card catalogs and the endless stacks in my university library where dust prevailed. And all for free...or at least, paid by our taxes which I consider the best bargain around since I read around 250-300 books a year. Can't imagine life without a library.
I'm very lucky that my local library is Shrewsbury main library, built inside a 16th century building that once housed Shrewsbury School. The arts and music section is housed in one of the school's old classrooms, with wood panelling covered in 18th and 19th century scratched names. It's a very civilised place.
Here in Hong Kong we don't use library cards at public libraries. Instead, we use our electronic identity cards. The self-servicing is pretty much the same, even the late penalty can be electronically paid.

The big new Central library is quite like Idea Shops, but most others are as ordinary as you can imagine.

Most libraries in HK are busy, despite the apparent public indifference towards reading.

I personally am not a frequent library visitor, mostly because the collection leans towards Mainland Chinese works nowadays, which I often found not serious enough as Wikipedia references.

Now that I have a car to drive, I might as well drive to my alma mater and look for more serious stuff there. And I gotta bring my library card for that.
There’s an excellent public library where I live, with a range of 21st century services, as described by other commenters. One thing that saddens me, though, is that the place no longer smells of books.
Another good thing about London borough libraries is that many have joined a consortium so can request books from other boroughs if not available in your own.
They may take longer to arrive, but it's all totally free - at least in my borough!
Hear, hear! Love my local libraries and always have at least one book borrowed. Great to be able to access and browse the database online too.

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