Monday, November 27, 2006

A visit to Denmark Square

Delights of the library

Curly and his family made a visit to Denmark Square, South Shields this afternoon to go to the library, it is some time since we were last there. There are probably many in South Shields who haven't used the library in many years (I don't fall into this category)

I often throw bric-bats and criticisms at our Labour council in South Tyneside, but to be fair I must give out praise and credit where it is due.

There have been some major changes to our library service recently and they apply across all of the borough's libraries. Out have gone all of the high level shelving to be replaced by modern low level book racks more easily accessible to most, including wheelchair users. Many books have been removed to the archives and the most popular selections remain on view (archived books can still be borrowed however). The biggest surprise comes when you renew your library ticket, which is now very much like a credit card with a magnetic strip, the card entitles you to take 4 X CDs, 4 X DVDs, and up to 12 books. Of course there is a small charge for borrowing digital media(which is only reasonable) but books are still free to lend, I'm not sure how many people might find the time to read a dozen books in a month, but you never know!

We had gone to get some DVDs suitable for children, the choice was enormous in the Sites and Sounds section, downstairs, you can even borrow software and games for the PC!

The new borrowing options available with the new card are tremendous, and the fees represent exceedingly good value for money (DVDs can be borrowed from as little as 1.10 each for a week.)
Other services at the Central Library include free public internet access, a great local history and research centre, reading clubs for children, an excellent reading room for those students who crave peace and quiet in the extensive reference section, and a tempting cafe.

I was greatly impressed and would recommend a visit to your local library, if you haven't been for a while.

I wonder if it would be politically risky to suggest that the days of free public libraries ought to be something of the dark and distant past? Would it be so bad to be charged a 20p fee to borrow a book? We seem happy enough to pay a fee to borrow other items.

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