We visit many different libraries during our travels and yet haven’t come across one as idiosyncratic as Blacktown library. It has been a gentle host to us during a week of rain, and so we forgive it for its shortcomings.

Brioni, Lauren and Elijah in Blacktown Library, February 2012
I use a desk in a quiet section of the library to catch up online.

Blacktown library is housed in a purpose-built building that was opened in October 2005. The layout is terrific, with two floors connected by a wide staircase, but the rules are weird.

Wifi internet access is available to library members for only two hours a day. I think this is akin to saying that the books are available for borrowing, but you can only read them for two hours each day. The restriction on wifi to members-only is irritating after our terrific experiences with New Zealand libraries where the internet access is available to all.

Another strange thing about this library is that the children’s picture books are not arranged in alphabetical order. In fact, I couldn’t see any order to them at all. I had to physically browse through all the three-quarters of the children’s books before I found the particular one I was interested in

When wandering around, I found a selection of babys’ board books on a top shelf next to early readers — not a very helpful place, I think. The buildings’ toilets did not have a child-changing table, which wasn’t much fun for Delaney or Elijah.

There was a tap built into a counter near the children’s section — innovative and useful. However, the water didn’t appear to be connected.

Nevertheless, this library has been good to us — forgiving of our noise and providing shelter from the constant rain. It wouldn’t take much for these simple things to be corrected to make the experience much better for all users!