Love your library

It is the ultimate free resource for anyone who loves reading, but too many of us forget that we have libraries on our doorstep. KEIRON PIM looks at how you can learn to love your library – and help the environment at the same time.

Have you been neglecting your local library? And do you want to find out more about how you can help the environment?

If so, this year's Love Your Library campaign is aimed at you.

Launching on Valentine's Day and running until the end of March, the annual event aims to promote library membership, and for 2007 there is an added drive to encourage people to “think green”.

Using your local library has always been an environmentally friendly alternative to buying books - it acts to reduce waste because once you've finished with your book it is returned for someone else to use.


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And the Norfolk County Council library service is now trying to become even more environmentally friendly.

Our libraries are taking several measures to help the environment as well as running a number of recycling-themed events.

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The Norfolk libraries service has been saving thousands of pounds a year by turning off lights and equipment when they are not being used. Plastic carrier bags are being discontinued and replaced by more environmentally-friendly jute bags.

Councillor John Gretton, the county council's cabinet member for cultural services, said: “Recycling and energy saving are getting embedded in our national consciousness, and I now instinctively flick the switches on unnecessary lights. I am proud that our libraries are doing all they can to save energy themselves as well as encouraging our readers to re-use and recycle.”

On Thursday, February 15, Diss Library is hosting a charity shop fashion show, while on the same day families in Thetford are invited to make music with junk. Freecycling - the scheme that matches people who have things they want to get rid of with people who can use them - will be under the spotlight in Long Stratton on February 22. And an archaeological point of view will be applied to looking at rubbish at events in Thetford today, Monday February 12, and Attleborough tomorrow, Tuesday February 13.

Other events include a junk art competition for schools and recycling workshops, as well as internet sessions and story times.

Green goodies up for grabs during the campaign include an organic hamper, Norfolk Wildlife Trust membership and books.

“Using the library to borrow books and find out more about the environment is free and we hope that our campaign encourages more people to reduce, reuse and recycle,” said head of libraries Jennifer Holland.

“Lots of people forget just how much libraries have to offer, so we'll be encouraging lapsed users to come back and offering free replacement membership cards to anyone who has lost theirs.” It's not the only way the library service tries to remind people of the benefits of library membership. In October it ran a Bookstart event at the Millennium Library, which was part of the 75th National Children's Book Week.

BBC Look East presenter Susie Fowler-Watt was joined by her two-year-old daughter Lola as she read children's favourite Little Rabbit Foo Foo to about 60 youngsters.

She said: “Reading is really important for children. Not only is it fun but it stimulates their imagination. I really enjoy reading books to Lola and I'm now rediscovering some old favourites.”

Using the library is also easier now for people with disabilities, as last year saw the council spend more than £50,000 on improvements. After consultation with disability groups the library service installed more automatic doors, hearing loops, ramps, lower level counters and new layouts, with all mobile libraries now fitted with lifts.

As well as providing the traditional service of issuing books for loan, our libraries also offer free internet access, and CDs and DVDs at a small charge. For people who are registered as blind or partially sighted, audio books and CDs are free of charge.

In a time when it seems that the cost of living is growing ever more expensive, it is good to know that there is a source of free books and information available for all of us.

Norfolk also has a fleet of 13 mobile libraries in action which reach more than 2,000 stops throughout the county. There are also a number of special mobile libraries which stop at hospitals and sheltered accommodation. These vehicles make life easier for anyone who lives far from a library building, making reading accessible to all. For more information call 01603 222267.

EVENTS

Here is a selection of the upcoming Love your Library events:

t Tuesday February 13: Gaywood, 10.30am-11.30am, Bugs, Beasts and Bunnies storytime and activities.

t Wednesday February 14: Downham Market, 10.30am-11.30am, Recycled Stories - stories and recycled Valentine's cards and bookmarks.

t Thursday February 15: Long Stratton, 5pm-6pm, Jute bag decorating for children aged eight and above.

t Friday February 16: Hunstanton, 5.00-6.30pm, Become a freecycler - how to use the internet to offer your unwanted things away.

t Saturday February 17: King's Lynn, throughout the day - Family wildlife fun day.

t Tuesday February 20: the Millennium Library at the Forum, Norwich, 2.30pm-4pm - Recycling internet taster session

t Sunday February 25: Earlham, 2pm-4pm, Recycling Roadshow - quizzes and recycling information.

t Thursday March 1: Hellesdon, 6.30pm - Lucy McCarraher talks about her book Blood and Water.

For more activity details see www.norfolk.gov.uk and click on Libraries. Further information on Love Your Library events is available from local libraries.

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