“Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life.

-Sidney Sheldon

As the holiday season approaches and the consumer machine cranks up a notch, I like to look back at the gifts I was given as a child, that still mean a lot to me as an adult. One of these gifts was my own library card, given to me when I was five or six. Books were no longer borrowed on my behalf by one of my parents. I chose the books I wanted to borrow and had the responsibility of returning them.

Our trips to the library, in the suburbs of Sydney, became a highlight of the week. I browsed through fiction and non-fiction alike, piling high the books I was interested in. I then sat on the floor and decided which to take home. My brothers and sisters would do the same, then we would chatter all the way home about our “new” books. Occasionally, I had a fine to pay because a book was still under my bedcovers with a flashlight. However, this never took away from the joy and sense of freedom of being able to explore whatever took my fancy on that particular day.

My love affair with libraries has continued and I can navigate my way around the world via the libraries I have spent time in. They have been places to relax, read, think, explore, study and work.

Imagine my delight when I emigrated and discovered the amazing libraries around Vancouver. Each library offers an extensive list of events starting with Baby Tales (aimed at children aged under 24 months) and including teen book clubs, free films, workshops and talks. That’s before you see their collection of books, newspapers, reference materials, EBooks, films, and music. Plus they provide spaces to study, read and gather.

Which library do you belong to? If you have not explored this great resource put “Library Membership” at the top of your wish list. Let your children discover the joy of browsing and getting inspired in your local library.