Malta Libraries is committed to provide an inclusive service to all members of the community and in honouring its mission to encourage reading for education, self-development, lifelong learning and recreation purposes, the entity has, over the past years, sought to introduce ever newer services and materials to its collections.

Cheryl FalzonCheryl Falzon

Since the 1920s, the network of public libraries spread across Malta and Gozo has grown to just under 60 public libraries which continue to serve the communities in person and free of charge. With one library card which can be applied for at any library counter or online from maltalibraries.gov.mt, members of Malta Libraries are entitled to borrow from any of these libraries.

Adult borrowers may borrow up to four books and three audiovisual material from all collections, and Junior and Young Adult borrowers may borrow up to eight books and three audiovisual material for a period of three weeks. This material can be renewed or returned early as per need, and this is where Malta Libraries’ recently launched Iguana Library App comes in handy as it helps members keep track of all their loans. This app is also free of charge and streamlines the most popular features and facilities of the Malta Libraries portal. Through it one can also look up material across the Public Libraries Network catalogue, scan the ISBN barcodes of a book and check whether the local library has a copy in stock and get information on addresses and opening hours of all libraries.

Besides physical material, as of 2016, Malta Libraries has also been offering its member free eBooks, Audiobooks and Magazines via the Libby App. Libby is a 24/7 library reading app used by millions of readers worldwide which offers material for different reading levels, tastes, and formats. The selection offered ranges from fiction to non-fiction in English and several other foreign languages. Libby’s eBook reader makes it easy to customize how one reads because it allows one to adjust an eBook’s font size, book layout, and lighting. Digital material means one can read or listen everywhere – be it during long commutes, on holiday, at the beach – without having to carry books or worry about due dates. The customisation options are inherently inclusive as they make reading possible for many people with learning difficulties for whom the printed word is limiting or overwhelming.

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Along the same lines, in 2021, Malta Libraries addressed the public’s increasing demand for online reading material in Maltese by launching the digital library service via the Octavo reading platform and app. Already enrolled Malta Libraries members can express interest in it by filling in a simple registration form which can be found on the maltalibraries.gov.mt homepage. Once the application is processed, the borrower will be given access to a collection spanning a wide range of genres. The Octavo app which may be downloaded on any Android or iOS device, or through the web app, also offers numerous features to facilitate accessibility among users of different ages and abilities, together with the option to customise the fonts, font size and background colours of their reading screens. Digital books are available offline after being downloaded so that readers can access them from any location even in the absence of a Wi-Fi connection.

Additionally, members of Malta Libraries who are either visually impaired or housebound can still enjoy the pleasure a good book brings by applying for the Talking Book Service which is an in-house recorded audiobook service supplied on pen drives. Once interested users register for the service, they will receive a library catalogue by post and for people who are visually impaired, the postal service is also free of charge. New users will be required to tick titles from a range of genres they wish to listen to from the catalogue and can borrow up to two pen drives for a period of four weeks.

With just one membership card the public can access so much for absolutely nothing at all! Be sure to enrol today for this public service, by visiting your local library, access maltalibraries.gov.mt, or contact us for further assistance on customercare.cpl@gov.mt

Cheryl Falzon is the National Librarian and CEO of Malta Libraries within the Public Service.

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