Love your library

From a young age I’ve always loved libraries. As a child it was for its wide range of books and never ending series of Babysitter Club books; Brynmor Jones Library at uni for every science periodical under the sun and for its views across the countryside perfect for procrastinating and now my local library that may be small, but seems to be run by a bunch of foodie librarians and has a cookbook section to rival Waterstones.

While I’m fortunate to get cookbooks sent to me from publishers there are many I want to read that I don’t get. I’ve found borrowing from a library a great way to road test cookbooks. Too many times have I bought a cookbook to find it’s rubbish. By borrowing from libraries I often find that if I like the cookbook I’ll end up buying my own copy. All of the books in the photo above I have taken out from a library then subsequently bought. If the library doesn’t have the book in stock they can order it in for the tiny amount of £0.80. I’ve got hold of both Short & Sweet by Dan Lepard and the fabulous Heston Blumenthal at home this way.  In the UK authors get paid every time their books are taken out from a public library through public lending right. Once books have passed their life on the shelves they are sold on. Recently my local library had loads of cookbooks for sale, some no more that 2 years old for £1.50 and under.

Unfortunately in some parts of the country libraries are under threat. I think they are such an important resource for everyone not only for the books, but internet (something many of us take for granted), and access to community information.

Do you use your local library? What is the best book you’ve managed to find there?

20 thoughts on “Love your library”

  • I was in my local library just last night to return and borrow some books (oh how I love books). It’s the second time I’ve been there in the 2 months I’ve lived in the area and I find it such a wonderful place (the one in the neighbouring country I used to live in is equally wonderful). It’s open late a few times a week, has a self service check in and out system (plus friendly staff as a back up), plenty of computers to use for free internet and a wide range of eBooks, DVDs and CDs to borrow not to mention a host of local information. I adore it. I am seriously considering spending an evening in there sometime to read and drink coffee from the machine.

    Last night I found info on some sustainability courses and a copy of My Year of Cooking Dangerously.

    • Sounds like a fantastic library. I saw a quote recently online that simply said “I love books like other women love shoes” yep that’s me!

  • I couldn’t agree with you more. I love our local library and take my daughters there every month. My six-yaer-old has so many questions about everything and it’s great to take her to the kids reference section and let her loose to find the answers.

    Like you I borrow lots of cookery books from the library. It’s the perfect way to ‘try before you buy’ as well as to discover some old and obscure titles that might not no longer be stocked in your high street bookshop. This week I borrowed Best British Dishes by Margerite Patten and Mireille Guiliano’s The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook. It’s so exciting to have hundreds of new recipes to try out!

    • The best book I’ve managed to get so far is the beautiful Laudree – Sucre. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it on the shelf. Now just patiently hoping it may appear on the for sale shelf very soon!

  • That is such a great idea. I usually get my cookery books from charity shops or they are given to me as presents but , after reading this, I will take a look and see what the library has to offer. Didn’t realize that authors got library royalties.

    • I do like the Oxfam bookshop in Derby city centre and the various St Giles bookshops that are dotted around the place.

  • I am right with you on this one. I “trial” a cookbook by using my local library or the ones either side of my town and like you, I will reserve a cookbook that I really want and can’t find. It’s brilliant and there is no way I could afford to buy all the books I have read. If I like the library book, then I will buy it knowing it will be greatly used at home. My favourite library find was Sarah Raven’s Christmas Book and without doubt I would recommend it and not just for Christmas!

  • I too love my local library and it’s pretty comprehensive cook book collection. I am also a mad keen purchaser of charity shop cook books and have found some real gems over the years. Have to agree that there are so many books out there now, you really need to borrow first to make sure you’re not wasting money on the latest so called “book of the year”.

  • I am fortunate enough to have a mobile library visit my home every three weeks. As I work full time the library assistant/driver chooses a selection of books for me, so it’s always a bit of a lottery, but I’ve read things I probably wouldn’t have picked myself. However, if I happen to be on holiday on the week the library comes, I get to choose my own books and you are allowed a lot more books than the usual library.
    I’ve picked out a few cookery books which I’ve gone on to buy, including Rachel Allen’s Home Cooking and Tamasin Day Lewis – Supper for a Song.

  • I don’t know why, but I’ve never thought of using the library for cookbooks – I’ll have to see if my local library have any next time I go!

    One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to make more time for reading, so I’ve been visiting my local library a lot and it’s great. The staff are super helpful – it quite regularly gets to the day my books are due back, when I’m stuck at work and won’t be home before it closes, but when I email them in a panic they always sort my renewal – great customer service!

  • I used to use the library all the time but then got into the naughty habit of the Book People. I take baby G to the library so really should check out the cookbook secrtion again as now have many we have never used!

    Mind you might have to visit without Baby G as if she see’s a bookshelf she just precedes to empty it completely. Surprised we haven’t been banned from the library yet!

  • I couldn’t agree more about the value of libraries! I use ours here in London so much for fiction, travel books and of course cookbooks! Every time I pop in its always busy and well used, which is great to see. I was a little worries the other day to see a sign saying they were closing…but on further inspection it appears for refurbishment! Thankfully Westminister Council have come up trumps with £150,000 to ‘do up’ the library! Hurrah! I know we’re very very lucky…

  • I couldn’t agree more. My library allows users to borrow a staggering 40 books at one time. Like you, I borrow cookbooks, test them out, and if I find I can’t live without them then I purchase them. I really am a total book-fiend and I simply wouldn’t be able to justify the expense and storage of owning every book that takes my fancy. I really can’t say enough good things about libraries!

  • Libraries touch so many people… so many of you have such lovely stories, and use the libraries in such different, diverse ways – a brilliant example is cook books! I’m working on a project that aims to celebrate libraries by talking to the people who love them, and inspire people to use them in different way, just like Jules is doing in this great article… If you’d like to be involved or find out more have a look at my blog, or drop me a line at
    I really hope to hear from some of you :)

  • I love my library . . . so much so that I now have a bit of a reputation there (in a good way!) The people who work there are fabulous and we talk about books as well as cookery . . . not only do they now all read my blog but they give me suggestions and ideas. They have also acted as guinea pigs for my experiments in baking. A noble lot indeed!

    Often buy books on the basis of road testing them from the library – so The Kitchen Thesaurus and Sarah Raven’s Seasonal Recipes were recent additiona , , , currently testing Hugh FW’s latest – Veg!

  • I am surrounded by books from my library – mainly cooking and gardening but there is nothing better than walking out with a big pile. I’ve just borrowed a book by Diana Henry which I love and most definitely will be adding to my wish list.

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