My partner and I drove to Adelaide for Christmas with our toddler. Glamour!
We left a chilly Melbourne morning but it developed into a very hot 40 degree day by the time we hit Nhill in the Wimmera where we were breaking the journey.
It could have been a horrible experience, but it wasn’t because I had cunningly made a list of all the public libraries on the route and checked their opening hours.
Our first stop was at the Ballarat library where we arrived just in time for Baby Rhyme Time. (It’s not just thinking of words that rhyme with ‘baby’ – I’m struggling to get past maybe, rabies and scabies.) We sang Twinkle Twinkle Christmas Star (they were working the seasonal angle) and had a good time.
In Stawell we had lunch on the grass outside the library and then rolled around on the cushions on the floor of the Children’s Section just loving the air-conditioning.
In Nhill we decided to hit the library instead of hanging in the motel room. We were met at the door and were told to, ‘Come inside where it’s cool.’ We were then offered the use of the tea and coffee making facilities. There was a big box of toys, which were mostly old phones and therefore extremely fun.
Of course, in all the libraries we had a look at some books.
So good on the public libraries of Victoria. They are a safe haven and a delight.
People sometimes ask if I mind people borrowing my books from the library rather than buying them. The answer is not at all.
First of all, I do get paid when my books are in libraries. Australian authors get paid Lending Rights when their books are in Australian libraries. The amount is capped, but for me it’s not insignificant compared to other amounts I earn from writing. I didn’t know about Lending Rights when I received my first payment, so it was a pleasant surprise.
But even aside from this, I still think libraries are ace. They provide free books (and audio books, and newspapers and digital material etc) to everyone. This is brilliant for us all and sharing stuff is good for the environment.
I’ve always borrowed books from libraries and I currently have a library card for four different public library services in Melbourne (a state-wide library card would make a lot of sense!) When I hear about a book I want to read, my first thought is to check if it’s in the library.
So perhaps it’s not surprising that when my first book, Loving Richard Feynman, was published I was even more excited to see it on a library shelf than I was to see it in the bookshop.
That excitement has not faded, and is sometimes a bit embarrassing. I’m not really proud of this next bit but anyway – I got a bit over-excited when I saw Stay Well Soon at the Hawthorn Library last week. I was playing with my son in the children’s section and checked out Middle Fiction, and there it was. So I put Stay Well Soon on a prominent display shelf while no-one was looking.
A couple of days later I checked the catalogue to see if Stay Well Soon had been borrowed and it had! And it was also on-loan from quite a few other libraries too. Libraries that I hadn’t even been in, rearranging the shelves. So now I realise there is something more exciting than seeing my book in the library – seeing my book has been checked out from the library. Hopefully that means some people are enjoying it, but if they’re not, at least it was free.