The good thing about studying in the UK, is definitely that everyone and the media speaks and write in English. Though it’s definitely not a benefit if you’re into learning new languages, it’s definitely a heaven for avid reader with less budget like me, because all the books in the library and in the bookstore are in English. As my lab’s based in Surrey, I applied to a membership on Surrey Library, which is a big consortium of 61 community libraries in the County of Surrey .
It’s very fortunate (as I’ve mentioned in other post, that my lab is in the middle of nowhere and I don’t have a lot of means of transportation) that the library has quite a well-stocked overdrive collection (update: as for April 2017 Surrey Library Consortium has moved to CloudLibrary which I like far less compared to Overdrive).
After I bought an e-book readers, it’s definitely easier to me to read digital version of books and articles (cough,thick books are not good for reading before sleeping, cough. Looking sadly at my abandoned physical book to-read-list). As the Surrey Library allow registration via email, I signed up for a membership online in my first month coming to the UK, and in just around a week, I get my member card sent via mail, which is very nice indeed.
Sadly for non-Surrey people The Surrey Library Consortium’s only for people working, living, or studying in Surrey. (This includes University of Surrey in Guildford). Other than that, Surrey Library is definitely helpful for my reading so far (as I still have a long wish list), but as it’s just for people in Surrey, the collection is not as big as I want it to be (It doesn’t have Hidden Figures, for example). As I am also registered as a student in London, I should be able to have memberships for London library as well. Apparently there are some libraries in London that’re open for non-Londoners, the London Libraries Consortium and The Camden Library are two of them. For these two libraries, you need to physically come to the library to make a card (although you can shorten the procedure by making an online account first before coming, here for Camden. The consortium has a lot of member but I registered in Hackney branch. For Camden I went to Holborn branch), but as I’m only registering for their e-book collection, no problemo! You need to show your ID (if I’m not wrong), but after registering online the overall process is about 15-30 minutes or so.
They are members of Overdrive E-Book Lending system. A lot more e-book lending libraries are available now compared to before, but sadly, a lot are available for computer and phone only, and ironically not for e-book readers. Overdrive is available for computer, phone, and e-book readers, and not to mention free and available in a lot of countries, as long as you’re a member of a library (I will be waiting for Overdrive in Indonesia). Overdrive is available in 30 countries and 34000 library so far (list is here)
It’s a good decision to register to two more libraries, as their collections are definitely complimenting each other. Based on my observation, in LLC there are a lot more science and science fiction books and omnibooks (as well as The Three-Body Problem and How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, both were in my wish-list), graphic novels (though mostly are 1st volume only), and series bundles (such as Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle series. In Camden Library a lot more hobby and art-and-craft books, how-tos, cooking, and traveling books. Oh, and also For Dummies series. As well as Harlequins(?) if you’re into those. To be fair I note that Camden Library has Darth Vader and Son and Lonely Planet Bali & Lombok, so yeah. So far no one has Ian Rankin books, I’m curious about his writing. Maybe I’ll check the physical collection if I have the means.
Other than Overdrive, the libraries also provide services from OneClickDigital, etc. but this article is mostly emphasizing on Overdrive, so, not yet, maybe.
There are some libraries in the UK that are open for non-residents! Manchester Library is one of these. Let me do more research to be able to put out a list.