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Find yourself in a library

Monday, 21st May, 2018

Enter Thelma James in front of the library’s recent May Gibbs display. Enter Thelma James in front of the library’s recent May Gibbs display.

When did you last find yourself in a library? Maybe it was as an inquisitive toddler, eager for a story. Maybe it was last week at the public library to scan and email a document. Or maybe you were last in a school library, furtively checking out the human biology books, ducking the librarian. Don't lie - we all did it!

Today marks the beginning of Library and Information Week, with this year's theme, "Find yourself in a library", so we are taking a good look at when, where and why you might find yourself in a library.

Not just bricks and mortar

Of course, we do have a library building. It's a great place to read, craft, learn, work, play, relax, laugh and chat. You'll find us opposite the Civic Centre in Blende Street: cool in summer and toasty warm in winter.

Today's libraries are so much more than books, although physical books do still make up the dominant part of what we do. We have a great collection of DVDs (all free), music, magazines, talking books (recorded books) and music CDs.

Need to photocopy, fax, scan or email? We can help. Need internet? We have 26 public computers to use for business or pleasure: check your Facebook, prepare your assignment, play a game. We also have FREE wi-fi if you would like to use your own device and this has recently been upgraded, with better speed and download limit.

When you can't get to the library though, there are other ways of finding yourself in a library. Lots of our services are online. If you have an internet connection, you have a wealth of resources right at your fingertips: search our catalogue for a resource you want and make a reservation for a book or computer. Not sure what to read? Browse our online reviews to excite and inspire.

You can download eBooks or eAudio (recorded books) through our website from anywhere in the world. Never get caught short of a good read again. Backpacking in the Himalayas? No problem. If you can log in, you're ok.

Use other links on our website to search family history, encyclopaedias, dictionaries and information databases such as Consumer Health Complete (to find out what that rash really means), Hobbies and Crafts Reference Centre (how to decorate a wedding cake) and so much more - free, reliable and available from your home computer, or from ours.

History at your fingertips

Our Library Archives is a treasure trove of the rich history of our area: maps, photos and newspapers as well as church records, school yearbooks, mine records and much more. Our staff and volunteers can guide you in your research or family history. Want to see your parents' wedding notice from 1942? We can help.

If you are interested in the history of Broken Hill and its surrounding areas, this is well worth a visit.

Library staff on L-plates

Far from being on the decline, libraries all over the world are adapting and new technology opens never-before-seen opportunities. In Broken Hill, if you have used the library lately, you will have seen a flurry of activity as we update our systems.

If you have been held up by a staff member displaying L-plates, it is because we are still learning a newer, much more flexible Library Management System. Please be patient. It will enable us to serve you much better (once we learn how!).

The library is also tagging all our physical stock of nearly 43000 items, to enable them to be recognised by RFID (radio frequency identification). This basically means the technology uses radio waves to identify items.

This update allows self-checkout of all items for those customers who want a speedy visit (although, staff will still be on hand to help anyone who prefers the old system). We have a new returns bin installed at the counter. RFID makes for faster service and easier location of items in the library - you will be able to find it no matter where we have misplaced it!

Makerspaces

As well as book learning, libraries are increasingly places for learning by creating.

Of course, Broken Hill City Library has been doing this for years. We provide children's crafts at weekday storytimes and during school holiday programs, as well as Lego sessions. We have expanded this to include basic coding for children (basic computer programming) - you may have seen this work with our little robot bees. Computer Club is for adults to learn various electronic media. Our Knit'n'Yarn group create amazing knitworks, crochet and stitching.

In the near future, we will be launching our "Little Bang Discovery Club", which is a hands-on science experience for children three to five years and their carers. Watch this space!

The library has also taken delivery of a 3D printer, which will be launched to the public in the near future. It won't make you an artificial heart, but it will present a new way to get creative.

And the sky's the limit

Many libraries are now offering outdoor reading areas: sunny nooks to curl up with your favourite book. Some offer business incubation spaces. Makerspaces offer community spaces which can involve soldering irons, sewing machines, video editing tools and so much more.

If you think of the library as a repository of books, you are way out of date. Griffith Library holds a collection of cake tins for loan (including a soccer ball, teddy bear and pirate ship). Special birthday coming up? Check out a mould and get baking!

Oakland Public Library in California lends power tools. Rhode Island library lends fishing gear. Tamworth has a seed library: borrow the seeds, plant and grow your crop, then return your seeds to the library.

Melbourne's The Dock library is designed for sustainable living, including natural light and ventilation, solar panels to generate much of the library's energy needs and roof tanks to catch and use rainwater (and we all know there is plenty of that available in Melbourne!).

Some libraries, such as Randers Library in Denmark, allow users to enter the library with their card even when there are no staff present, much in the same way that some gyms offer 24/7 service. This is a variation on the self-service point at libraries. After swiping your card and gaining entry to the library, the library system processes your age, gender, reading preferences and presents a tailored experience. For example, if a family enters, music will play in the children's section and screens around the library will show suggestions of resources and events for that demographic.

Find yourself in a library

So if you haven't found yourself in a library recently (or even if you have), now is the time. Call in and see us to celebrate Library and Information Week and see how we can serve you.

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