As a child, Friday evening was the best time of the week. After school, I'd go down town in Mohill and head into the library. I'd be allowed pick 6 (or sometimes more) books and devour them over the weekend.
I'm still a library fiend - but sometimes I don't get the time to read physical books as much anymore so it takes me much longer to read, leaving me a bit daunted by the prospect of having to return them within a few weeks. I find it faster and easier to use the Kindle - especially as I can use it at night without disturbing anyone else.
A few months ago I discovered that not only do my library offer a huge range of eBooks to borrow online, but that I can also place requests, automatically renew books, borrow Audiobooks, and access a huge range of magazines.
For the purposes of this post, I'm not going to go through every County in Ireland - just google your County and find out where your local library is - but I'll use my local one as an example to show you what's available. For free. Yep - membership of all public libraries in Ireland is now free.
Longford County Library
This is the Umbrella for 6 libraries in Longford - Longford Town, Edgeworthstown, Drumlish, Ballymahon, Granard, Lanesborough. You can go in and join any of these libraries for free, then you'll be issued with a library card. Ask for a PIN to be set up on your account so you can access the Longford County Library site online, then you're all set. If you're already a member, just ask for your PIN to be activated. Should you need to, you can reset your PIN here.
eBooks and Audiobooks
Longford County Library uses the BorrowBox app, which is available on iOS and Android. You can install this for free on your Apple or Android device. I ran into a problem trying to get it on my Kindle Fire - but there's a step-by-step guide right here. Once you have the app, you can log in to the online library and start borrowing. Log on to your County Library website and find the eBook section. The online libraries are all on Bolinda Digital - the Longford one is at http://library.bolindadigital.com/longford. You're allowed a maximum number of Audiobooks and eBooks at a time (this varies - e.g. Longford allows you to borrow 5 of each, Galway 4 of each). You can borrow instantly and access your content through the app, or you can reserve books that are currently on loan (these count towards your total). You will not be able to borrow anything without a library card and PIN. There are adult, young adult, reference, childrens, cookery - the same selection as you'd get in a physical library. When you click borrow, you'll be given a return date (I think about 3 weeks). Once the date is coming near, you'll get an email to remind you that your time is almost up, then you can either return or renew by clicking the "return" button beside your book or "renew" provided no other member has reserved it.
You can check at the Libraries Ireland homepage here to see if your County library currently offers eBook or Audiobook services. By County library I mean the entire library network in your county - e.g. joining the library in Raheny would give you access to the entire Dublin City online catalogue, joining the library in Granard gives me access to the entire Longford County online catalogue.
With Zinio, you can download a free app (iPad, iPhone, Kindle HD/HDX, Android) to read magazines offline, or you can read online. Just scroll to the bottom of the page on the site (here) and you'll see the links to download.
There's an enormous range of current and back issues available - everything from All About Soap magazine to Top Gear, Cosmopolitan, Weight Watchers US, Cross Stitcher, Teen Vogue. You can tick a box to receive an email when the next issue is available.
Enter your library card number to access the site. There's a huge archive of newspapers, magazines and trade journals from all over the world, available to read instantly (1,109 at last look). You can browse through publications or search for something specific.
When you click on a title, you can choose what year, then what month, week, etc you want to look at. The articles will then be shown and you can click through them - e.g. this is an article from the May 20th issue of the North Shore Times (Sydney) about Wi-Fi - you can see that it says "7 of 55" - meaning there are 55 articles to view from that issue. This could be a lovely way to keep up with local news from home if you don't have access to newspapers from where you grew up.
Hopefully this was easy to understand - I would love if more people joined the library and encouraged their children to join too. Books have been a comfort to me throughout every stage of my life, no matter what was going on at the time - so even if you're not a reader it would be such a great thing to introduce your children (or younger relatives) to!