Warsaw, capital city of Poland has 18 districts. Every district has a chain of local libraries. If you register at any library, you have the access to all of the libraries in the district. Moreover, you can borrow at the same time 15 books for 35 days.
There are 4 types of libraries:
- children and teens (including school lectures);
- adult (and teens);
- foreign-language books;
- reading rooms (with science and popular science books and magazines).
Except reading room, you can use them Monday to Friday, from 9:00 to 19:00. Reading rooms are open on Saturdays too.
Children libraries are ordered by grades (school lectures) and other books are ordered alphabetically by author or in case of non-fiction books, they are divided into topic sections using UDC system.
Adult libraries have general fiction, genre fiction and non-fiction (UDC) sections. General fiction is divided by author’s country or region. There is Poland and the rest of the world, sorted alphabetically. Poetry is divided into Polish poetry and foreign poetry, the latter (countries) is mixed together, sorted by author’s family name. There are (can be) shelves for specific genres, like fantasy & science-fiction, paranormal romance etc. Genred books also have country-specific labels.
Some of the libraries are focused around a certain topic, like history of Warsaw, travelling, fantasy & science fiction. This means, that there is a bigger selection of books on that topic. For example sff-focused library already bought The Martian by Andy Weir, which was published in Poland just a month ago. This doesn’t mean that this book won’t be available in other libraries, but it might be available later. Keep in mind that every library has a general selection of fiction, poetry and non-fiction. Theme-related books are just extra flavour.
Foreign language library offer books in several foreign languages. The books can be originally written in English, German, Russian etc., but there are also translations (including originally Polish books).
Reading rooms have a variety of science/popular science books and magazines for use in the library. If there is no book in any reading room in the city, they can be borrowed from other towns and used in the reading room.
At first I didn’t think to mention it, but you can book a book online, and you have an online catalogue which lets you check for books in any (or all) of the district libraries. You have an access to your account, with dates and libraries, and you can prolong a book online. Inspirations by FHC.
All the types of libraries offer also magazines. You can borrow audiobooks and film DVDs (the latter paid) or games (children). In some cases (like health conditions) the books can be delivered to your home.
After registration in the local library, you can register (in the library) for a free access to IBUK Libra portal, where you can access for free science/popular science e-books and e-magazines. Regular customers can access 5 books per month for 20 PLN, but your library is paying for you.
You can use computer/internet/printer/fax in library. Libraries organise courses for example for elderly people on how to use computers, workshops (for various ages), lessons for kindergarten/school kids, exhibitions, meetings with various peoples (not only authors and book promotions). Btw, I had a meeting in library where I talked about my stay on Java, Indonesia. There were also meetings with the topics like the job of executioners in Poland, the tea history. And of course you can also attend a book club discussion.
And all of these lead to the… 2015 Library Challenge I decided to join in. In the challenge you should check out books for a given number of times. From 1-5 checkouts in 2015 (as a novice) to 28+ check outs as a pro. I decided to go for pro level, I often visiting libraries.
Are you using libraries? If yes, how do the libraries looks like in your country/town? If no, why not? When was the last time when you went to the library?