Imagine you can walk into a room full of books that you can borrow to read for free, computers you can use when you need to, and a space you can work at with internet and desk space. And people on hand to help you find the books or sites that you need.

 Of course that’s what libraries are for us today – one of the few places that offer completely free services to help us enrich our lives and worlds. 14 of February may be Valentine’s Day, but did you know it is also Library Lovers’ Day? It seems appropriate to consider the love we can give our libraries to help them survive in these tough times.

The first thing is to join them! Libraries are measured by how many people use them, and so to prove that they are useful they need to be used. So make sure to join your local library, and take the kids in your family to visit it to select their books – it’s always good to start them young and get them hooked early!

Librarians may also welcome volunteer help with the library. Offer your services on a regular basis, and become part of this treasure of an organisation. You could help to shelve or cover books, or, if you are artistically minded, put up displays of books. You could find out from local schools what projects they are busy with and choose one to exhibit on, such as Ancient Egypt, or a period in South African history. Tell the relevant teachers to encourage learners to visit the library to see what’s on offer.

Are there any writers in your area? See if you can organise a reading, and if they can donate a book or two to your library. Make sure to invite your local schools, and the local press to cover the story.

You can also find out about using the library as a venue for a reading club for young children or teens (for a course on how to run reading or writing clubs for teens click here). Many libraries are the hub for community reading groups, see  if yours has a venue you can use for this kind of activity. You can ask your librarian to help you with finding material for your club too. And if they don’t have what you want, request the kind of books you require from the librarian, so they can follow up with their suppliers.

Promote your library on social media to get other people to enjoy its resources and facilities. Remind people about the fantastic service that libraries offer – showcase good books you’ve read, or advertise events that are happening at your library. This is a good way to help membership grow, and so keep your library alive. 

Do you have a good library in your area? Share your story with us in your comments below…

If you enjoyed reading this, read about the power of reading here.