Yesterday I told you about our day out at Tullie House museum, in Carlisle, but another favourite visiting spot in the holidays/weekends/days with a Y in them is the local library. The children can spend literally hours in there, choosing new books, taking part in the activities on offer and generally whiling away the time, engrossed in an imaginary, or not, world.

Recently I have started making time to read again, and selecting books when the children do. And I have loved it. I had forgotten how much I enjoy reading, and although I am not sure I will ever be a Kindle girl (I love the feel of a good book in my hands) I can see the advantage if you read a lot, especially on the move. Books are so emotive – I find myself laughing, crying, sympathising and hoping against hope that whatever scrape the characters are in, all will work out in the end.

All this contributes to why is it such a crying shame that over 200 libraries in the UK closed in 2012. It seems that a decline in adults borrowing books is behind the decline in library use, but fortunately the number of children using libraries has grown a little. I remember as a child we used to go swimming on Monday evenings, which was more often than not followed by a trip to the library… I used to particularly look at the books about cats, and could take you to the shelf where they were kept (although the library has moved them now). But what can libraries do to increase their numbers? I love the marketing ploy in ours this week. Near the entrance, where they have the “Quick Picks” was a stand containing nothing but books that looked like this:

surprise library book

And since I am not expecting anything for Valentine’s Day, I thought a little surprise  was just the ticket! How cool is this?! I could browse for hours. I make wishlists on Amazon, and I take photos of books I like the sound of, then use it to remember which books to get from the library. But this is just genius. I have favourite authors and genres, naturally, but how about this for a way of discovering books that I may have completely overlooked?

This is what was inside:

library book unwrapped

Probably not my usual cup of tea, granted, but I am happy to give it a go (I used to love My Family and Other Animals when I was little). I’ll let you know how I get on, but in the meantime, if you are not a regular visitor, you really should try visiting your library – they aren’t the stuffy, silent placed they used to be, where if you dared to sneeze, or breathe too loudly, a bespectacled librarian would glare at you. They are friendly, helpful, knowledgeable people who have a love of books, and probably local information.

And, really, there are few things better than being lost in a book.

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