No Longer a Library Slacker


What a difference a year makes! In January, I shared my status as a library book slacker. At that point, I hadn’t checked out a book from the library in years because I was so bad at returning them on time. YEARS. But thanks to some encouragement in the comments, mostly around using the online hold system, I took the leap a few months later.

Since then, I’ve been doing weekly trips and have definitely found it easier to get books back on time if I have another waiting on hold. I guess I need some bookish encouragement. It hasn’t been too crazy, but the hold lists have certainly started to grow and I’m just waiting for the dreaded day when a whole batch comes in at once.

Even though only a small percentage of the books I read this year came from the library, I’m aiming to change that for 2015. I’ve gone through some of the lists I made in Edelweiss and requested that my library order them, so hopefully I can pick them up that way. Here’s to libraries in the New Year!

Are you a reformed library slacker? Any more professional library tips to share?


  • I am a library addict. I can’t go a week without visiting and the majority of my books come from there. It helps it’s at the bottom of my street mind. Emma

    • Thankfully mine isn’t too far either! It’s been so nice to be able to pop in and out with new books every week.

  • Wow, I cannot even imagine not using the library for a year. (That’s why I’m actually challenging myself NOT to check out any books in January so I can read some of the books I already have.) If you have trouble with returning, ebooks are great — they automatically return themselves for you! Online holds are also terrific. I hope you have a great library year in 2015!

    • I’m not much of an e-reader (really only when I travel), but using the hold system has been great. It had been so long since I used the library that the online system wasn’t nearly as good as it is now, so it’s completely different!

  • Had to laugh at your dread of the whole bunch coming in at once. I will admit this has happened to me. But now our library allows the possibility of ‘freezing’ your hold. While it is frozen, the book continues to make its way up the list, so you haven’t lost any time. And once it gets to #1 on the list, it stays there until you unfreeze, and then you get the first copy that comes back after you unfreeze. I’ve already reserved my book club picks through May this way!

    • Jennifer Ochoa

      What a fabulous idea! I wonder if my library does this. If not, I think I’ll submit a suggestion.

    • I’m so jealous! I wish my library did that, it would be super helpful.

  • Wesley

    Good for you! Library holds can be a delicate dance, that is for sure. Sometimes I’m awesome at it and get two a time each week and then sometimes it blows up in my face and suddenly there’s 6 books waiting for me on a week there’s no time for reading.

    • I’ve been lucky that I haven’t had more than two come in at a time, but I feel it right around the corner!

  • Kudos to you for using the library! I need to be better about that…maybe with the Overdrive program since I only read electronic books.

    • If I read ebooks more often, I would definitely be using Overdrive. My library doesn’t seem to get new ebooks right away, though.

  • Books on the Table

    I am ashamed to say I am a terrible library user. For six years I was the president of our library board. This was a TON of work and the only perk was that my fines were “forgiven”. Now that I’m just a regular patron I have to pay fines — and boy, do those add up! I’m better off buying books with my employee discount at the store where I work. I am spoiled because I get so many ARCs at the store. I do love reading and writing in our library’s beautiful quiet room –it has a fireplace and comfy overstuffed chairs. A couple of weeks ago, I checked out a huge stack of design books (I’m doing some redecorating) — you’ve now reminded me that they are OVERDUE.

    • This is exactly how I was, too…between the fines and holding up books for everyone else, I felt guilty checking out books! I’ve definitely gotten better, but you’re right that keeping up with ARCs and library books at the same time makes it hard to do alllll that reading.

  • Congrats on using your library more!

    Since moving to Buffalo, I use the library much less, but it’s because I hate my library system. You have to pay a fee to put a hold on a book, pay another fee if you forget to pick it up, and you can only take a new release out for one week, even if you’ve been on the hold list for a month. Dropping everything to read a library book the second it comes in to avoid late fees just isn’t feasible. And of course, my holds all tend to come in at the same time, so I’ll have three books that I can only hold onto for a week. I actually have checked out a few things recently, though. It helps that since moving apartments a few months ago, I’m just a few blocks away from a (very tiny) branch where I can pick up/drop off holds instead of trying to find parking near the downtown branch.


    I am a bad library user. I bet it has been two years since I checked out a book. I do need to support the library. I always returned books on time, but since I get so many books in the mail from publishers and authors, I haven’t had the need to go to the library.

    I will make it a point to get there in 2015.

    THANKS for sharing and for this great reminder to all of us about the importance of using our libraries.


    • I didn’t have much of a need either, but I’m trying to cut down on some of my commitments if I can…the library makes reading a bit more fun.

  • Sam_TinyLibrary

    Congrats on meeting your goal :)

  • Ti Reed

    I hardly ever check out physical copies but I am a huge library ebook user. I check out what’s available and add to my heart’s content.

    • The online system and Overdrive have really made library use so much more fun and streamlined. I can run in and out before too many other books distract me! :)

  • No library slackers here! Our public library has been exceptional in acquiring so many of the books we want to read. I (Penny – LH) feel I am at the “expert level” of getting those holds up on the new titles so that I’m the first person in line to nab it. ;-) We all use the e-book and audiobook features (wear them out) and I think I can safely say that almost every book and audiobook Elizabeth-LH read this year came from the library. This year more than ever I think that if I saw the book on Netgalley or Edelweiss I would check to see if the library had it (or requested they ordered it) instead of requesting from those two sources. That way the feeling of owing a review disappeared. To blather on – I think that’s a goal I’m working more towards in 2015 – reading what I choose to read and less of what I feel I would be obligated to read.

    • That’s something I’d love to do in 2015, too. I just did a huge batch request the other day (the librarians are probably wondering who the crazy lady is!), but it will be nice to be able to get the books that way without feeling tied down by the blog.

  • Jennifer Ochoa

    Timely post! I realized a couple months ago that I was spending WAAYY too much money on ebooks and needed to cut costs. I too hadn’t been to the library in years and years (and years). I finally got a library card and started checking out ebooks. So easy!

    AND, I realized a couple weeks ago that our local branch is a 25 minute enjoyable walk away. I’ve been trying to get an hour of walking in every day, but it’s been difficult to get motivated. Walking to the library and back has actually been fun and I eat up the 50 minute round trip like nothing. (I also read while I walk, a talent I’ve had since I was in junior high and would read while walking the halls.)

    So, my 2015 New Years resolution is to stop buying books I can get at the library and to walk there when it’s time to pick up a book or drop off a book.

    • That’s so perfect! I’m surprised more people don’t use Overdrive (I think there are a ton of people that don’t know about it, especially the phone app for audiobooks!)…I know my library has a ton of ebooks that people are probably buying all the time.

  • Congrats on using the library again. I started using the library again maybe two years ago. I am fortunate to live in a county with a small, but awesome library system. I can place a hold online, choose where to pick up my books, and drop them off at any branch. With open borrowing, I can get books from the library that’s close to my work, even though it’s in another county. Plus I’m saving a ton of money on children’s books. (I also love to do random searches in the online catalog just to see what comes up…)

    • Your library system sounds very similar to mine and it’s been so nice. I think part of my lack of use before was just not realizing how easy it was to do all of those things because I hadn’t been in so long.

  • I’m still a library slacker in general, but I’m getting better! There’s been a lot of interlibrary loaning comics this year, after all.

  • Jennine G.

    I am somewhat of a library slacker. I don’t use the library cause I pretty much buy or swap everything I want to read. I’m more like the library…I currently have eleven books out to four different people. I have to keep a list and everything! Overdrive app is what helped me this year. I can read on my iPad in places where it looks like I’m doing work ;) thanks to the library ebook loan app. And I use overdrive to borrow audio books from the library for my classes!

  • Beth

    I’m not a library slacker in the same sense that you’ve written you were! I work in a library so I am always there and always checking books out. But I think I’m still I library slacker! I may take the books out, but I don’t read half of the books I take home with me! I think I need to make an effort to actually read more library books. Instead of just taking them out, deciding they would be good to read but maybe another time, and then going out and buy them…:P Also, I don’t know about your library, but at my library if you have a lot of holds that may come in around the same time, you can suspend them. It doesn’t really lose your place, but it makes it so they come in more staggered! It’s good to hear that you’ve been using your library more! I wish everyone would!

    • Someone else mentioned being able to suspend their holds. I just see a cancel option online, but I’ll check when I go in next time because that would be pretty great!

  • Rebecca Foster

    I used to max out my library card and lug home tote bags full of books nearly every weekend; now, even if I only borrow a few, I never get to them before the due date. I attribute this to several things: my public library system introducing hold fees, getting an e-reader, and becoming a dedicated NetGalley and Edelweiss user. I think for one of my 2015 reading resolutions, I would like to read more library books again!

    • I don’t eread much, but I know that reading ARCs definitely halted much of my library use. I’m hoping that using Edelweiss to see what’s coming out will help me be able to request far ahead of time to be first in line for books I’m fairly interested in, though. I’m really surprised to hear a few people mention hold fees – I think that would make me shy away, too!

      • Rebecca Foster

        Alas, my library now charges 50 pence per hold, so I just never place holds anymore. And to think I used to be the annoying patron who had 20 books taking up all the space on the hold shelf. (I secretly wonder whether they introduced the fee because of me!)

  • I’m totally a reformed library slacker for the exact same reason! My childhood was haunted by letters from the library about overdue books! When I lost my job the first time I had to stop unnecessary spending and the library became my new favourite place. It helps that my library is around the corner from my office – once I finish reading them I just bring them to work and let them collect here til I can walk them back.

    • I realized it definitely makes it easier to have a routine (which was one of the great suggestions someone gave in my last post) for getting the books back.

  • I started strong this year as a reformed library user (I can get books back on time, I just like the convenience of instantly getting something on my Kindle… but around October? I started to slide…. now I’m back to my old, bad, paying for every book even though I’ll never re-read it habit. :)

  • AnnabelSmith

    I rarely get books back on time. Once I had 20 books on my card, and 20 on my sons and they became overdue while we were on holiday, accruing 20 cents per day per book in fines. Total damage $62 heartbreak

  • Good on you! I’m fortunate to have a great library system. The only fees I pay is if something is overdue and requests are addicting! They all tend to come in at once. Now that I am working at mine, walking through the stacks makes my TBR list even longer!

  • I am a “working on it” slacker. I have started for 2015 a library challenge to get many of us back into our libraries. I am President of our Freinds Of The LIbrary board and on the city Library board… I really need to do better ;)

  • As a librarian, I’m definitely a library user! But mostly for backlist titles. I feel bad putting something on hold and making patrons wait. Most new releases I read in ARC form. And I use the audiobooks, both physical and digital, a ton. At least at my library, you can “freeze” a hold so you retain your position in line but can wait to pick it up, which is what I do when it looks like I’m going to get a ton in at once (it always happens). You might ask if your system has that option! And I’m kind of appalled that other libraries have holds fees. I assume it’s because people were not picking theirs up (the rate is about 15% at my library). Yay for libraries!

  • Hooray! As I probably said at the time of your earlier post, I am a HUGE library user. I go every other Saturday, roughly, which means that all my books fall due on Saturdays, which helps me to remember to renew them. It’s not a perfect system — I definitely have fines! — but having the routine helps keep me from becoming forgetful about the books I have out.

    My newest innovation is to have a shelf in my living room devoted to just library books. I’ll keep you posted about how this works out. My notion is that if I have all the library books out and visible, I’ll be more likely to read them promptly, remember I have them, and return or renew them on time.

    • Yes! I think you were the one who originally inspired me to make my trips part of my other weekly chores rather than trying to make it a special trip and that was SO smart.

  • I’m a TERRIBLE library patron. I love going to the library but I am definitely a slacker! I either don’t read the book before returning it, or return it late… not all of the time, but enough to feel bad about it. I’m still so happy that you requested All My Puny Sorrows from your library; I can’t wait for you to read it!

    • That’s what got me in so much trouble before! I’ve been trying really hard to get in line…here’s hoping it stays this way :)

  • I love that my laziness comes at a very small price – only 20 cents per day for late returns!

    In any case, most of what I read comes from the library. I don’t have any real tips, per se, but becoming familiar with their catalog (especially if you can look it up online) is super helpful so you don’t end up browsing too aimlessly.

    Best of luck with your library goal for next year! :)

    • Oh, browsing aimlessly would kill me…I would come home with stacks that I’d never read! I’ve been very careful about only holding titles, running in to pick them up and getting out before anything else can tempt me.

  • I’m a library slacker.

    A few years ago, I checked out a handful of books from the library, and I failed to return them for several weeks. I ended up racking up a $33 fine after finally returning them. But then! I kept forgetting to pay the fine, and they almost sent me to collections. Egad! I have stepped foot in a library since then, but I haven’t actually checked out any books. I’m too afraid!

  • I’ve actually become a library slacker this year! The library used to be my main source of books, but since I’ve discovered that I can request ARCs, I hardly use the library at all. I’m going to try to get back to using the library next year though, since I do miss the serendipity of browsing and the ability to mood-read instead of reading on a schedule.

  • I am a terrible library user for myself and a fantastic library user for my sons. I don’t know if it is that I am a librarian, so I get burnt out on being there, but I rarely go for myself anymore. However, and I think this is true for most librarians, I am terrible about returning books!