As part of my writing residency, I’ve been learning about the services Hastings Library offers.
Everyone knows libraries have books, and lots of people have said that they enjoy visiting with their children or grandchildren. But the library is for everyone, all ages and backgrounds, and specialises in a lot more than just the printed word. To raise awareness, I put together this list of just a few of the lesser known services:
The library caters for people reading in languages other than English. You might be surprised to learn that there’s a good selection of foreign language fiction available from Hastings Library. And not just this, there are also dual language picture books for children.
You don’t have to step foot in the library – it’s already digital. As well as the normal online catalogue and the ability to reserve and renew books online, you can take out digital magazines and e-books to read on your own device.
You don’t have to read, you can listen instead. And it’s not all clunky tapes or CDs. You can loan audio books online with a handy app. It’s great for keeping up with your reading whilst you’re doing something else – I’ve been listening whilst driving.
You can take out a Wellbeing Box. Each box has interactive resources, local service information and literature about different areas of wellbeing. I’ve seen a few of these going out, so they’re pretty popular.
Continuing the wellbeing theme, you can get books on prescription. Your GP or mental health worker can prescribe you a book, and there’s no reservation fee. Also, if you struggle to get to the library, the home library service can deliver books to you free of charge.
The self-service machines are more sophisticated than a self-service checkout. This seems like a small point, but I’ve been really impressed with these machines. You can take out and return books with ease, and all without it chirping about an “unexpected item in the bagging area”.
There are some great regular activities hosted by Hastings Library. The two big ones are for children. There are the weekly Rhymetime for babies and their carers, and weekly Code Clubs for ages 8 to 12. The Code Club were already looking at HTML the week I sat in – very impressive!
You can get books in large print. I’ve spoken to a few older users who are really grateful of this, and quite a lot of shelf space is given over to large print.
There are computers to get you online, and help on hand. In Hastings Library, you can book a computer for free (and print or photocopy for a fee). The best thing, though, is that there’s a volunteer around at certain times to help you – so if you’ve been meaning to set up an email account and haven’t got started yet, the library might be able to help you do that.
Reading groups don’t have to go it alone. Libraries in East Sussex help reading groups out. They have a programme that (for an annual subscription) can help your reading group get hold of multiple copies of the same book. So if you’ve been thinking of starting up a reading group, your library could help.
There’s so much more I could talk about here – from the quiet spaces to read and desks the library offers, to the excellent help you can get from the library assistants when you get stuck. Hopefully this list has introduced you to a few services you didn’t know Hastings Library offered – and if you did know about them already, top marks to you! If you have any questions or you want to find out more, visit the library’s webpage or ask a member of staff when you next pop in.