Monthly talk: Corina Skerritt – What can Dawlish Library do for you?

John Vick reports:

I was so pleased that we were able to organise an additional monthly meeting in August after the cancelled meeting in July.  Corina Skerritt, the Dawlish Librarian, was asked to respond to the question, ‘What can Dawlish Library do for you?’.  The answer is – a great deal.  Gone are the days when libraries were unwelcoming places reserved for silent reading, where food and drink was banned, and only the most committed reader (of ‘proper’ books) was likely to linger.

Even regular users of the library are not aware of the full range of services available to us all – mostly free of charge.  Apart from the books on the open shelves, library users have access to all the other libraries across the region, and further afield too. There is a wide range of large print books, as well as audio books and DVDs.

Technology allows us to borrow and return books easily, to renew and order books, and also explore the catalogue online.  Not many of us are familiar with ‘Libby’, an app which gives readers access to thousands of e-books which we can access remotely and read on a tablet or other device – all free of charge unlike better known but commercial alternatives.

Corina is excited about all these opportunities for us to get the most out of these huge resources but she also wants to welcome us to the Library in person.  There’s nothing quite like the personal enquiry and ‘one to one’ help and advice.  Interest groups can use the Library for meetings; we can use the IT facilities free of charge for two hours at a time and we can all get free IT advice and tuition from volunteers who can help us make the most of the technology.  The Library also has access to Which? and other magazines both online and on the shelves.  This can save us the cost of a subscription when we are doing some research on the purchase of a washing machine or other expensive item.

Before the pandemic, the Library hosted group activities for children, older people and special interest groups of all kinds.  Understandably, this sort of activity was not possible during lock down and when we were all mindful of the risks of social contact.  At this time of the year especially, the Library offers activities for children whether they live locally or are visiting on holiday.  Some members might be very interested in this for their grandchildren.  As restrictions have ended, there has been only a slow recovery of these activities, but Corina hopes we will be keener to return to this in the months ahead.  Perhaps some u3a interest groups might like to consider using the Library for their regular meetings?

With the assistance of FODL (Friends of Dawlish Library) the Library has hosted a varied programme of events such as film nights, talks, quizzes and other social events.  Corina is keen to ensure that the Library continues to play an important part in the community life of Dawlish.  Speaking for myself, having a library in Dawlish is one of the many things which makes this a great place to live.  So many smaller towns have lost their libraries as spending cuts have been imposed, so we must do all we can to ensure that the Library continues to play a unique role to enhance the life of everyone in Dawlish.  Use it or lose it!

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