BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Libraries Around the World! This Month, Massachusetts in the United States of America

Welcome to a brand new feature on the blog! I love libraries, always have, and use them far in excess of the taxes I pay each year that support my local library. Recently, NetGalley made changes to how they handle international egalleys for bloggers outside of the US. Basically, they no longer have access to ARCs on NetGalley. What does this have to do with libraries? Well, many US bloggers responded by telling the international bloggers to "Just get it from the library". First of all, that's incredibly rude and entitled. Second, it's not that simple. Libraries work differently around the world. Some charge fees for checking out books or to use the facility. Not all have genre books or even books in English for those readers who want to read in English. And it got me thinking. I wondered about libraries in other countries. So I contacted some bloggers and sent out calls on Twitter and Goodreads. The result is this semi-regular series on libraries around the world, the books and services they offer, and how they work. I'm kicking it off with my library system here in my corner of the United States. Each month for the next few months I'll have a blogger from the US or another country visit and talk about their library. After that, well, I'm hoping my bloggers or readers will be willing to share about their library. Those will go up as they're available.

Typically, in the US, towns and cities have a public library as part of the town services. It's funded in part by taxes paid by town homeowners and they get some money from town, sometimes from the state, and they do a lot of fundraising for additional. Most of the time (I've heard of a few exceptions), there's no fee for using the library or checking out books. Other services may have a small user fee, and that varies from town to town, and from state to state.

I don't often use the library in the town where I live as it has limited hours of operation and a .small collection, but then it's a small town. I got in the habit of using the library in one of the towns that borders mine; both the town and the library are significantly larger. I worked in that town for about 20 years and their hours fit better with my work schedule, and I still use it despite having changed jobs. So much of what I talk about will be in reference to that library.

The library that I use is two stories and offers quite a lot. There are meeting rooms for town government meetings or local groups to use as well as several rooms set aside for study groups or quiet areas. There are large tables where people can spread out and work. There are groupings of comfy chairs for people to sit and read or work on their electronic devices. There's a copier upstairs and one downstairs for people to use at a cost 10 cents a page. There are about a dozen computers with Internet that you can log into using your library card for 90 minutes at a time, unless there's a wait list, and you can print from those computers, also at 10 cents a page. There are several more computers without Internet access that let you search the library's catalog and put books on hold. You can also use them to access databases to which the library has subscriptions.  

There's a separate room for children's books, infants to about young teen, pre-teen. Teens have a separate area for young adult books. The majority of the library's physical books are hardcover. Paperbacks occupy part of one wall and that's it. There is a small section of graphic novels, and large print books in hardcover are also available, in their own section. There are CDs and MP3s that can be checked out as well audio books that you can download and e-books in Kindle and ePub that can be downloaded.

Other materials that can be checked out include CDs and videos. They still have some VHS videos but they've mostly switched over to DVDs. The videos, regardless of format, have a fee. Each one can be checked out for 7 days, for a dollar, and can be renewed for 1 week. There's a late fee for each day that the video is late. Late fees also apply to books and audio materials. Anything you download, such as an e-book, does not have a late fee as they automatically disappear from your account on their due date. Most of the books and materials are in English but they also have a Chinese language collection, and smaller collections of books in French, Spanish, Russian, Korean, Portuguese, Gujarati, Hindi, and Tamil.

The library also has an extensive collection of magazines and newspapers. Current issues are shelved out on the floor near chairs and tables and back issues are in a separate room. A limited few are available for check out but most have to be read in the library. Newspapers include the surrounding towns, big cities in the state, and major ones around the country.  

One of the best things about my library is that it's in Massachusetts. Seriously. I am totally biased but Massachusetts has an excellent library system. The state is divided into several library regions and each town belongs to a particular region. The town I live in belongs to one library region while the library I use most often in the town next door, belongs to a different region. But I have access to both. You go in, show an ID and a utility bill verifying where you live, and then you get a card. That card then gives you access to all libraries in that region. So I have library cards for two different regions in the state. If my library doesn't have the book I want, but another library in the region does, you can request it and it will be sent to your library. My library does not charge a fee for that service but some do. Also, if no library in that region has the book you can search other regions and often, request the book. How freaking awesome is that?

My library also hosts a lot of events. Before the holidays, they invited local non-profit groups to a holiday fair. The groups set up tables in one of the event rooms and sold merchandise and distributed information about the services they provide The library is currently hosting a monthly film series featuring films that won awards for cinematography. Occasionally, they will hold an art show or concert of local artists. They also offer free workshops now and then on topics such as using Excel, navigating Facebook, or downloading e-books, among others. You can sign up for emails to keep up to date on offerings. The library in my town has a weekly newsletter where they list all the new books and movies that have arrived and tells you about upcoming events.

Habitat for Humanity, Massachusetts, holiday,
The library's 2017 holiday non-profit fair. I worked this table for the fair.
To get a better idea of what I've been talking here are links to two libraries in the same regions as the ones I use; wander around the sites, click on links, search for a book, see what they offer.

Tell me about your library in the comments or ask a question.

If you would like to talk about your library, send me an email - - and put "library post" in the subject line.

I almost forgot! If you use your library, or need a little motivation to use it, consider joining the Library Love Challenge. This year's hosts are Angela at Angel's Guilty Pleasures and Brooke at Brooke Blogs. The idea is to make use of your local library and save the cost of buying books. There are 5 levels to choose from and a giveaway you can enter by sharing your review links. Sign up here. My goal for 2018 is 24 and so far I'm at 3. Not a bad start.


  1. Great post! I love the library and it was fun to take a look at yours. I live in the St. Louis area and have access to several library systems. There is a lot of digital content available as well as a large selction of books and material. I was a little surprised to learn that you have to pay a fee to check out videos. I guess I am really spoiled because the only time you would need to pay a fee in this area would be late charges. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Oh,I'm jealous about the lack of fees for videos. That's awesome about your library. One town I lived in didn't charge any late fees for anything. I don't recall if they charged for videos.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. What a fun post! I love seeing different libraries. I'm a big fan of my local library. It's small but the collection is good and they have book clubs and a story hour almost every week day that's absolutely wonderful and I miss it dearly since that the Tornado has kind of aged out. There are also Lego clubs and science clubs that I want to check out with him when he's a little older.

    1. Wow, those clubs sound great. What great offerings. I hope the Tornado (when he did get so old?!) will take advantage of them.

  3. Wonderful post. It was so nice to see and visit your library. ^_^

  4. I don't get to the library as much as I used to since I started blogging. Too many review copies. And when I do use the service it is usually for e-books or audiobooks online. MA does have great libraries. Used to love the Salem library when I lived there. Can't complain about NJ though. I am member of two regions as well...the one where I live and the one where I work.

    1. Like you, I use the library less since I started blogging. Although, I've gotten some books from there when I was turned down for a review copy. And I make use of some of their other services. That's great that NJ also allows patrons access to multiple regions; it's a wonderful benefit.

  5. I love libraries! And like you, I have cards for two: the small county library in my small town, and the regional library system headquarted in the nearest city, which covers all the local counties except mine. (Long story. TL:DR version, my county decided not to participate when the regional system was formed.)

    I enjoyed reading about your large town library, which has a lot of similarities with my regional library's headquarters. I do have to pay a yearly fee to use it, because my county doesn't participate so my tax dollars aren't supporting it. (My county library card is free, though.) But it's totally worth it.

    I also love the idea of this series, and look forward to future installments!

    1. That's a bummer about the yearly fee but at least you're able to do it and have the access. It's been interesting reading people's responses and learning more about libraries around the US.

    2. The fee isn't bad -- around $30 or $35 per year -- and it's totally worth it! We've been cheerfully paying it for about 12 or 13 years now.


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