When you hear the word "Library” what comes to mind?

Is it a quiet room filled with books, strict rules, the sound of shushing, and a stern librarian with glasses and a bun?

Or do you see a vibrant community space where books coexist with computers, offering free internet access, a variety of events and activities for all ages, and a place buzzing with social interactions, crafting sessions, and friendly faces?

If you thought of the latter, you’re probably already enjoying one of Explore’s amazing libraries in York.

But if the former image popped into your head - where have you been?

Of course, libraries are about books, and we love sharing the joy of reading.

Whether you're looking to escape into a great novel after a long day or cozy up with a book on a dark night, we’ve got you covered.

You might even get the chance to meet a favourite author at one of our events, join a Reading Group to discuss your latest read, or find your next great read after a chat with our knowledgeable library staff.

And yes, you might spot a staff member with a bun or glasses, but rest assured, there are few rules, and no one will tell you to 'shush!'

Books are just the beginning. Explore’s Libraries are also about connecting people.

If you're a new parent feeling a bit isolated, come along to one of our popular Storytimes or Stay and Play sessions, held regularly at every library. These free sessions are perfect for meeting other parents while your little one enjoys a singsong.

For older children and adults too, many Explore libraries offer Lego clubs and Craft groups.

These are great opportunities to get creative, enjoy a cup of tea, and have a good chat.

You might also join a community singalong or work on an art project with a local artist.

Always wanted to learn a new skill but dread the idea of going back to school?

Our friendly, patient staff are here to help you brush up on your digital skills.

Learn to book holidays online, connect with family abroad, or apply for a job. We offer regular drop-in sessions to build your confidence.

For more formal learning in a warm and welcoming space, we partner with York Learning to offer classes in everything from yoga to painting.

If you need reliable information and support, we also host regular sessions with organisations who can provide expert advice on various matters from health issues to financial matters to help you through challenging times.

This is just a snapshot of the daily happenings at your local libraries.

We are always looking for volunteers to help us do more.

By volunteering with Explore, you can have a real connection with your community, share your skills, or learn new ones.

If you want to support your local library financially, please do consider becoming a Friend and help plan fundraising events in your community.

Wherever you live in York, there’s probably a library nearby and remember Libraries are often the heart of their communities.

Interested? Learn more by visiting www.exploreyork.org.uk or, of course, by popping into your local library.

We are here for you.

Sarah Garbacz is the Chief Operating Officer at Explore York Libraries and Archives