Manchester and Trafford Libraries: Pros and Cons

By Jonathan Clark, age 11

I love reading – fantasy, mystery, history, biography, cartoon strip, religion, faith, sport, so as you can guess I use the library a lot. There’s a library just five minutes walk away and if we are in the car, my brother, Mum and I can get to any one of five libraries in 20 minutes. 

I want to talk about what’s great and what’s awful in Manchester and Trafford libraries. First, let’s look at what’s great about our libraries:
1. You can read all you want: In a bookshop it’s dead tempting to just pick a book off the shelf and start reading it there and then. You can do that to a certain extent but you can’t very well take a book, sit down and read the bits that interest you (something I am guilty of) and then put it back. But in a library you can do just that! If you don’t think it’s worth borrowing, you can just look at it there and if you want you can take the book home, which leads us to point two.
2. You can borrow books for free: If you want to take a book home then you can do that. All you need is a library card, which is free of charge, a self-service machine and home you go. In Manchester you can borrow up to eight books on your card, in Trafford more.
3. You’ve got plenty of time (usually): It is three weeks before you have to renew your book in both Manchester and Trafford and you can renew your book several times. Even if you haven’t finished your book by then (say you’ve been on holiday) you can take it to the library and borrow it again. But that is not always the case – your book may be reserved (horror!) That means that you have to return it when your next renewal comes up. This can be particularly annoying if you have only just borrowed the book. However, you can do the same. Let’s look at point 4.
4. You can reserve books from other libraries: Yup, just go on the libraries website and reserve the book you want. You can have it sent to your local library. Many of my library books are ones I have reserved.
5. You can take books back: Books take up space, a lot of space. But with a library book, you can just take it back when you’ve finished with it. And it doesn’t cost you a thing!
6. It’s more than books: It’s DVDs, computers, art and beyond. A library is a centre for the community. A library is a place for education and that’s not just how to do your maths better (I learned how to make a puppet in a library, went to a science demo and did two stopmotion animation workshops). 
So on top of what I’ve already said, there are many reasons libraries are great. In fact, I don’t think we (or at least I) could do without them.
Now let’s look at what’s not so good:
1. It can be frustrating: Manchester libraries have faults. You reserve books and they may take a few months to arrive, sometimes you are told a book has come in and it hasn’t. It’s this sort of thing that really annoys me. To be fair though, you don’t get this sort of thing in Trafford libraries. I also think the library could do something to try and stop books going missing, either they buy a new copy of the book they have lost or they track it down, but it seems that they just leave it and the book still shows up on their catalogue which brings us on to point 2.
2. The catalogue can trick you: If you go on the library website you’ll find if you look carefully that not all the books on there are ones the library actually has. Thus you can reserve a book the library does not have but has lost. The websites need updating badly.
3. Lack of quality: In certain libraries a good sized percentage of the fictional books are fairly trashy while classic children’s books are harder to find. Some, though have a wider range of older and to my mind better books.
4. Space and surroundings: Some libraries have lovely seats, windows and plenty of space to browse. Others? Nope, they can be cramped with nowhere to sit. People would like libraries more if they were in attractive buildings with windows to look outside onto the street, with space to relax.
I believe that libraries are an important part of our society and should be treasured, but I also feel that a lot could be done to improve them.
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