Celebrating public libraries

Many of us booklovers have fond memories of public libraries – whether it’s the treasure trove of books; the calm, quiet spaces where you can be (or find) yourself, or a friendly librarian who helped you discover a favourite author. I can safely say that my love of libraries has influenced my decision to become a librarian!  What’s more, modern libraries are better than ever – offering a huge range of classes and activities that aim to educate, inform, support or entertain you.  A day at a busy public library now goes something like this:

A group of Storytime regulars get ready for stories and rhymes as soon as the library opens. Other users focus on study, watch YouTube, or browse for jobs online, while the onsite cafe fills the air with delicious aromas.  An English Conversation group learns about road rules, while members of a social club greet each other at their weekly gathering.  In the afternoon, library staff lead workshops on computer skills and after school robotics, while others learn to crochet.  Finally, in the evening, a local author arrives to speak about their latest book.

Libraries are part of the same ecosystem as booksellers and writers – one which celebrates the written word, and promotes literacy and a love of reading. Modern libraries also celebrate creativity – not only can they provide how-to guides on many topics, they also offer classes and equipment for activities such as podcasting, video editing, 3D printing, electronics, art and crafts, and woodwork.  These classes also serve another important purpose – libraries as a place to meet like-minded people and become connected to the wider community.

Libraries around Australia will be celebrating Library and Information Week from 21-27 May. So whether you are  an active library member or a lapsed one, drop in to your nearest library to enjoy some special celebrations or just check out their current offerings! To inspire you, I can’t resist highlighting these very excellent library-themed books:


The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett



Her Majesty, chasing unruly corgis, chanced upon a Bookmobile parked outside the royal kitchens. Good manners dictated that she should borrow a book.  The rest is… alternative history.  This is a cheeky, charming gem of a story.


Library Wars: Love and War by Kiiro Yumi and Hiro Arikawa

In a future Japan, libraries raise their own armies to literally fight against government censorship.  A fast-paced manga filled with action, political intrigue, friendship and romance.



The Library: a World History by James W. P. Campbell

From Baroque magnificence to Zen-like minimalism, libraries have often been built to impress.  This catalogue of spectacular libraries, from the ancient to the modern-day, will fuel your travel dreams.


The Bad-ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer


When Timbuktu fell to the Al-Qaeda in 2012, thousands of priceless manuscripts were at risk of destruction.  It was these bad-ass librarians who, with bravery and ingenuity, smuggled them out to safety.

About Karen Seligman

Karen Seligman is a newly-qualified librarian working in a public library. As a book- and library-lover from way back, she finds nothing better than being surrounded by books and other library-lovers! Karen’s past lives as a law graduate, corporate warrior and research scientist continue to inform her wide-ranging tastes in reading material, with her favourite genres including historical fiction, fantasy, food writing and popular science.

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