In the internet age, libraries are an often overlooked resource. And as someone who doesn’t get out much, from a small town on a tiny island, I didn’t think they had anything to offer me.
Oh, was I wrong!
1 . Audiobooks
This is definitely the one that made the biggest impact! Why waste money on Audible and support the mega-corporation that is Amazon, when you can find most audiobooks free from your library?
You will find that just about every library has an app you can use completely for free with an access code that gives you thousands of audiobooks (and ebooks) for free.
The one I use is BorrowBox.
It is simple and easy to use, and looks good too. This way I can read on the go without it costing me a penny! And as a chronically ill student, I certainly couldn’t afford to audiobooks otherwise. It is a life-saver on those days when brain fog leaves me unable to read words on a page (and relaxing too!).
I have read My Purple Scented Novel by Ian McEwan and Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality by Sarah McBride this way.
2 . Graphic Novels
I have been dying to read more graphic novels for years, but I simply could not afford to. Easily upwards of £15 buying graphic novels just was not an option for me, so I was elated to find the library’s selection was actually decent, especially when it comes to the Young Adult genre.
I had previously been waiting for my friend to let me borrow her copy of Heartstopper by Alice Oseman, only to find both volumes in the library on my last visit. They had been tagged with cute little rainbow stickers during pride so it would be easy for queer teens to pick out books that would reflect their experiences.
Alice Oseman is probably the author recommended to me the most at the moment, and from what I have heard Heartstopper: Vol 2 is even better than Vol 1; Or rather the story as a whole feels better because of it.
3 . Community
Above all else, I have found my local library to be a refuge. Whenever I need somewhere safe to go, the library is there. It is free, accessible, friendly, and there is wifi. The staff (who are mostly volunteers) are patient and understanding of disabled people, and perhaps that is from reading their own books, as they have a large variety of books on disabilities and mental health for all ages. There was even a graphic novel about chronic pain!
They have areas for small children to play, regular events for them, and a quiet area just for teens that may as well be my second home.
It used to be home to what I would confidently claim was the comfiest sofa in the world – although knowing the Isle of Wight someone probably broke in and had sex on it..
Their collection of LGBTQ books could be better, but it is still more than I expected. Given they have posters for LGBT groups and mental health charities up, I’d say it is the closest I have found to an alcohol free gay-friendly space – and we don’t even have a gay bar!
I will leave you with this:
I hope this encourages you to explore your local library and discover what treasures it holds. I am proud of my local library, I hope you are too.