Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cardiff Library Services

I remain astounded at the image so many people have of libraries. From strangers I meet at parties, to people who work for other Council departments - I mostly get the shush! picture, and the resistance from school-haters that it's all books and seriousness, etc...

The commonest reason given for not using libraries usually involves taking a book out years ago, letting it go overdue, assuming massive fines have built up (actually, there's a maximum of £10 for a book if you return it) and never daring to return.

Apart from the fact that users can now renew (extend the loan period of) books and other items
  • at any branch in person
  • by phone
  • online
this does seem a silly reason to give up using a local facility completely. 

You can still visit, you know, and use the facilities, even if you don't want to borrow stuff.

With an easily obtained (one form of ID) and totally free library card you can
  • Borrow not just books, but music and language CDs, DVDs (recent films, classics, foreign language), Graphic Novels, etc
  • Use the internet for free in any of 20 places in Cardiff - and soon you will even be able to use your own laptop through Wi-Fi access in the Central Library
  • Check availability, and book internet sessions up to 8 days in advance - from anywhere on the Web
  • Access your library account: - see what items you have out, extend the loan period to avoid fines, and place reservations on popular items, which will then get held for you, etc
  • Anyone (even non-members) can Search the library catalogue 24/7, and members can reserve items for collection later
  • Get access to the library's subscriptions, e.g. the geneaological site Ancestry.com will normally charge you for every search - within the library Ancestry searching is free.   Other digital subscriptions include the complete Oxford Dictionary, Encyclopedia Brittanica, The Times Digitial Archive, Which? magazine, British Standards, local papers, and many more.
  • Even better, many of those resources can be searched (by library members) from home. All you need is a library card number and PIN.  See the e-Reference collection
  • The Local Studies department is digitalizing a lot of its stock, so (through the Catalogue) you can search old photos, maps and other fascinating material - useful for school projects, as a supplement to family history, etc. Try it!  You don't even have to be a member to search these online...
  • We have a large database of local clubs and societies (is yours listed?)
  • And on, and on...
And virtually all of this (remember) is free.  OK, you pay a small charge to borrow a DVD, but you get it for a week, not overnight as with (say) Blockbusters.  You also pay a small charge for music, or talking books, unless registered blind.

Cardiff Libraries online.  (includes addresses, maps, opening hours, etc)

A Hipper Crowd of Shushers  (NY Times article about the new generation of library workers)

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