Do you often go to the library? Did you go to a library when you were a kid? What do you usually do in the library? What kind of people go to libraries to work or study? Are libraries popular in your country?
  • Local (adjective) - from, existing in, serving, or responsible for a small area, especially of a country.
  • Far-off (adj.) - a far-off place is a great distance away.
  • This, our, etc. neck of the woods (idiom) - this, our, etc. part of a particular area.
  • Vividly (adverb) - in a way that is very clear, powerful, and detailed in your mind.
  • Childminder (noun) - a person whose job is to take care of other people's children in her or his own home.
  • Load (noun) - a lot.
  • Complex (adjective) - difficult to understand or find an answer to because of having many different parts.
  • To poke around/about (phrasal verb) - to search through something, esp. without permission or without any particular idea of what you might find.
  • To pin down something (phrasal verb) - to discover the exact details about something.
  • On loan (phrase) - if a football player is on loan, they are playing for a different club for a limited period of time.
  • Cost-cutting (noun) - actions taken to reduce the amount that is spent on a service or within an organization.
Get exclusive episodes on IELTS Speaking parts 1, 2, and 3
Get exclusive episodes on IELTS Speaking parts 1, 2, and 3
Questions and answers
M: Do you often go to the library?

R: Much more than I used to, actually. In my hometown, the local library is quite far-off, but up my neck of the woods now, it's just over the road. So I'll go there maybe once or twice a month. I think that's quite often.

M: Did you go to a library when you were a child?

R: I vividly remember we would go there with our childminder. I used to pick up a load of books on complex topics, just because I liked the pictures. It must be where I get the vocabulary from.

M: What do you usually do in the library?

R: I like to poke around the lifestyle and science fiction sections in the hopes of finding something interesting. And I've looked up information on local authors for various projects. The librarians there are actually quite helpful if we talk about my library where I live now.

M: What kind of people go to libraries to work or study?

R: Based on a limited number of visits I've made recently, it's hard to pin down exactly who goes there. I suppose, my best guess would be the, there are people who are interested in finding out about different subjects connected to what they work with or what they study.

M: Are libraries popular in your country?

R: R: Well, I'm hardly an expert, but if I were to guess, I'd say they're probably relatively more popular now than they used to be in the recent past. Because people are trying to save money by taking books out on loan, rather than by buying them. Just because we have this cost of living crisis. However, I don't think that they're as popular as they were back in the day, like if we're talking like in the 1950s and 60s. Just because people still have more money than they did back then, but still, they're using various cost-cutting measures and so libraries will play a part in that.
M: Thank you, Rory, for your library story. Well, for your library answers. First of all, what do we say? Go to a library, go to the library, go to library?

R: Well, go to the library or go to a library, not go to library. You need an article, but go to a library for like one of many and go to the library for a specific one of many. That's usually your local libraries, the library.

M: Yeah, and you've mentioned this local library. I usually go to my local library. So local in your neighbourhood, right? Like, your local school, your local shop, your local library, right? In the neighbourhood. So I usually go to my local library or to the local library, right? Or I've never been to a library, a library, yeah? Or I don't like libraries. So, you said that "up my neck of the woods"...

R: Yes, it's an idiom and a spoiler alert, we are working on an idioms course right now. More information on that further on down the line, which is also an idiom. However, up my neck of the woods means where in the area where I live, not that you live in a forest, it just means where you live.

M: Okay, could you give us an example?

R: Oh, well, yeah, sure. There aren't many people up my neck of the woods, because it's a village.

M: As a child, Rory went to the library and he said that we would go there. So, I would go there. Why would? Because it was a regular action in the past. Okay? So Rory is talking about the past, when he was a child, "I would go to a library". Yeah? So kind of, it was a regular action every week. And you can say I went there, or I would go there.

R: Yes. I went there, I would go there, I used to go there.

M: Who is a childminder?

R: A childminder is just someone who looks after you when your parents are unavailable to do that. So... And it's their job to do that. So, a nanny is another word, we just call it a childminder. Like mind means obviously your head and what's going on in there. But, mind can also mean to look after and a minder is someone who looks after something. So a childminder is someone who looks after children. Like, mind the gap, like keep the gap in mind. Yes, it's all connected.

M: Pick up a load of books. When you take books from a library, you pick up books, a load of books, lots of books. So, as a child, Rory used to pick up a load of books on complex subjects.

R: When we talk about what a book is about, it's a book on something, like I'm reading a book on being creative in schools.
M: An interesting question, what do you usually do in a library?

R: Like, what do most people do in libraries?

M: No, because these days libraries are, you know, they've adapted to this modern life. And they have computers, they have technology, they have cafes. You can also call a library a hub. A hub.

R: A hub of knowledge, a community hub.

M: Yeah, it's all about these communities and helping each other. Maybe, there are some master classes, some classes, seminars, lectures in your local library. There's a lot going on in different libraries these days. Rory pokes around in the science fiction sessions.

R: Yes, it's just like looking, looking for a thing. It's a very small section, though. There's only about 10,000 books in the local library right now. Maybe it's more, but it's not that many, not like the State Library.

M: I enjoy poking around the magazines section. So just like looking around, checking out different magazines, for example. You can also use another phrasal verb "look up". So, I've also looked up information on something or I usually poke around in ta-ta-ta section and I look up information on certain subjects. What do we call people who work in a library? The people who match you with the book you want.

R: We call them lucky because they don't have to deal with people during the day.

M: Librarians. Yeah, so a librarian, like a library - librarian. Yeah? A person who... I like this expression, like a librarian is somebody who matches you with the book you want. Dear listener, also you can say that I prefer borrowing like books, periodicals, newspapers, films, maps. In libraries, we have DVDs, e-books, audiobooks, databases. I'm reading from the script. And... Yeah, and there are collections of, I don't know, rare books, right? Even if you don't, usually, if you never go to a library, you can say this, just to show off your vocabulary.

R: When? In what? In which one of these questions are you going to say: "Oh, I look up the rare collection in the library".

M: What do you usually do in the library?

R: Oh, yes. What do I usually do? Like, if it's a rare collection, I doubt that you're doing it very often, right?
M: Yeah. But you can say like, oh, I usually borrow this and that, I poke around this and that section. Sometimes I also check out the collections of rare books and DVDs. DVDs.

R: My answer was fine also.

M: Yeah-yeah, your answer was fabulous.

R: Getting defensive about my vocabulary now.

M: I've made some visits to a library. So you make visits to a library. You visit a library or you can say that "based on the limited number of visits, I've recently made", yeah? So to make a visit to a library. A nice phrasal verb, Rory, you've used, this "pinned down". It's hard to pin down exactly who goes to libraries.

R: Well, it is, because everybody goes to the local library, where I live. At least that seems to be the case.

M: Yeah, but that's in Scotland. What about some other countries?

R: I don't know about other countries.

M: Yeah. So kind of, it's difficult for me to say what kind of people go to libraries, so it's hard to pin down who exactly goes to a local library. And when you use a phrasal verb, make sure that you stress, which word do you stress, Rory? The verb or the preposition?

R: Is it the verb?

M: No, it's the preposition that you stress. Typical native speaker.

R: I'm tired.

M: Awww.

R: And you are rude.

M: I am rude. Yeah, we usually say pin down. Not like pin down, but pin down. So the stress is usually on the preposition. That's like poke around. Well, we don't say like poke around. Like, around. Yeah, we're exaggerating, yeah? But poke around the science fiction section. So around is more stressed than poke, okay? And then the strategy is to say "my best guess would be people interested in novels". So my best guess would be people who are writing a course paper or who are writing a thesis dissertation. So my best guess would be la-la-la-la. And then Rory used his strategy "I'm hardly an expert, but if I were to guess, I'd say that". And you know, Rory, our listener might think that no, come on. Whoever says this? I'm hardly an expert. This is not natural. But you know what? I went to Thailand and there was a guide, he was talking about these mountains and lakes. He talked about fish and he goes like, if I were an expert, I'd say that. And I go like, that's our strategy!
R: But he's obviously one of our listeners. Thank you Thai guide for listening.

M: Yes and the guide was from Britain.

R: Oh, really?

M: Oh, yeah, yeah, a British person.

R: Nice.

M: And he used this strategy. So you see, dear listener, this is real life. If one person used it, it's like natural.

R: One, one native speaker used it and therefore, that is, of course, not how language works, but there you go.

M: Then we say that people can save money and borrow, borrow books from their local library. So we borrow books, we take books and then we give them back, right? What if I don't give a book back?

R: Then you are killed! Because you're stealing. No, if you don't give a book back, then you might have to pay a fine or you'd get a written warning from your library. Or if you're a teacher in the United Kingdom, then you can take out special teachers' account and you have an unlimited loan time because they know that teachers are busy and they'll get them back to you when they can.

M: So we borrow books from libraries, but if I just go to a library and I take a book and just, I just leaf through it, I read it there. So what do you call this? Like I use books for reference?

R: If you're just reading through a book in a library? I guess you're just leafing through it. It depends on what you're using it for.

M: And you mentioned these "cost-cutting measures". What did you mean by cost-cutting?

R: A cost-cutting measure is just something that helps you save money. So, borrowing books instead of buying them is a cost-cutting measure, because you don't pay for them. Not paying your taxes is a cost-cutting measure.
M: Yeah, dear listener, so you can talk about libraries as community centres, right? So where people go to have different classes, I don't know, to meet other people, to just hang around with your friends. And also, I think some people use libraries when their internet at home is down. WiFi doesn't work, so they just pop in their local library to use like free WiFi, because it's like, free, right? Supposed to be. Is it for free?

R: I don't know. I don't think we have WiFi in our local library.

M: No? Ahh, Scotland these days...

R: But we're, we're in the middle of nowhere.

M: I like the way you say it, now. I'm in the middle of nowhere. Excellent. So Rory has officially accepted that he is just in the middle of nowhere, in a small village, just out there somewhere in Scotland. We don't even know where he is.

R: That doesn't mean that it's a bad thing. It means it's quiet.

M: Oh, no, no. Quiet, yes. Do you think that libraries are in real danger of closing down, Rory?

R: Everything is in real danger of closing down. Probably not the really big state-owned ones. So, the one that you were describing in Moscow, for example, or... I'm trying to think of a big library in London. I don't know any famous libraries in London. But the ones that are owned by the government, they probably won't close. But local community libraries, as they're used less and less often will probably close down.

M: Oh, and do you know that in some libraries, you can use your voice to search for library materials?

R: That will not be in my local library, I assure you.

M: Yeah, but maybe in some, you know, in libraries in London or in other capitals, you can just use your voice. Please find me a book by Rory Fergus Duncan-Goodwillie. A book by who?

R: If you hooked up an AI to a search database, then yeah, probably. You could say like, I need you to find a book that's about X, Y, and Z and they would find it. It'd be great.

M: Thank you very much for listening! So please make sure that you let us know, like do you know any people who go to libraries these days? Do you go to a library? Or maybe when you were at school or at university, did you use to go to a library and what you did there? Okay? Thank you very much! Hugs, Korean hearts, kisses, lots of energy and we'll see you in our next show! Bye!

R: Bye!
Get exclusive episodes on IELTS Speaking parts 1, 2, and 3
Get exclusive episodes on IELTS Speaking parts 1, 2, and 3
Did you like this episode?
Make sure to subscribe to our social media to see some of the “behind the scenes” stuff!

Our Instagram:
Our Telegram:
Error get alias
Show more
Study with us