Why I Love Libraries.

There’s something  very unique about libraries. With the onset of the internet and eBooks, bookstores have declined in number but it seems that our libraries  have not. Having reinvented themselves, they hold a proud place in our local community.

Unlike many clubs, membership is free and open to anyone. They are the ultimate recycler of books, magazines, music and movies. EBooks are even available to borrow on line from the comfort of home.

I never feel alone or lost in a library. Libraries are social and are often located in beautiful spaces. Why stop in to borrow books when there’s a wealth of other things to do there? Whether you use the computers, attend an event such as story time for children,  learn something new  like a technology program, join a book group or listen to an author talk, there is something for everyone. And if you ever need anything, librarians go out of their way to help.  I once borrowed a book from an interstate University library – the librarian found the right solution for me. What a change to dealing with many retail outlets?

I like browsing the shelves for the latest and not so latest books. As an author it’s a thrill to see my own book on the shelves at the Monash  Public Libraries as well as the Stonnington Public Libraries. Did you know that when you borrow a book by an Australian writer they receive royalties? This doesn’t happen in other countries. It feels good to know that I can support an Australian author just by borrowing their book.

What are your favourite libraries? I love the view from the Wheelers Hill library where you can sit, read a magazine overlooking the Dandenong Ranges and watch the ducks paddling their cares away in the lake below. Then pop into the café for lunch and  browse the art gallery for the latest exhibitions.  I love Phoenix Park Library where you can watch children play in the park and then attend a painting class in the Community Centre next door. You can do more than exercise your brain at the Clayton library by heading in to the adjoining swimming pool and gym after borrowing a book.

If you haven’t stepped into a library for years, go and try it out for yourself. You might discover something exciting is happening.

 

How exactly do I find out more?

State Library of Victoria
State Library of Victoria

So  I knew a bit  about Ocean Island. But if I really wanted to understand what my father had experienced, I would have to read something of that time. Luckily he’d mentioned reading  the “Mid-Pacific Outposts” which had been written in 1945 by  Albert Ellis himself (see my earlier post entitled ‘ Where is Ocean Island?’ for more on him).

Surely my father had kept a copy – I searched through all of his old boxes – nothing  but old school trigonometry books – why on earth had he kept these?

I searched the internet and found it listed but not in stock. I searched bookshops for old and rare books – nothing.

Then I discovered Trove which is the brainchild of the National Library of Australia. What a site! I found articles, newspapers, books, letters, archived for viewing in many cases on-line, dating back to the 1800’s – and mostly for free. It listed the book available in my own State library. The only catch was I would have to go there – it wasn’t available to borrow.

I admit that I’d never been to this amazing place in the centre of Melbourne. Once there, I ordered the book and waited for half an hour while they brought it down from some secret spot in the bowels of the library. I  explored –  there were terminals, a newspaper room, communal desks, people everywhere and books, books and books. It was a busy place. I must have looked like a country hick – mouth open in awe. In truth, I  live only a short distance away in suburbia.

Soon my book, labled with my name, was ready. It  looked and smelt like it’d been in a dark dusty dungeon. I  found a place at a communal table and opened the cover.The last time it had been taken out of its dingy hiding spot was in the fifties – a popular book, it wasn’t.

After ten minutes of reading, I was only up to page 15 – this was going to be slow.  My Ipad was in my bag – so I took photos of the pages I wanted. I glanced around but no-one bothered me or seemed the least bit concerned.

There was great information but if Mr Ellis were relying on reviews of his book today, I’m sure the feedback would not be good.

The internet has been an amazing source of information  and it continually astounds me. But there was stuff in this book that I would never have found on the internet and there are still holes in our information highway waiting to be filled.