love your library

Learn to Love Your Library

love your library

I know most of you don’t need this post—you love your libraries with wild abandon! But I also know there are serious readers out there who don’t use their libraries, because I was one of them. I was just terrible at returning books, constantly built up fines, and just stuck to my own shelves. Thankfully, I took a few tips and my library heart grew ten sizes, so I know it’s possible.

Know Before You Go

My biggest struggle was getting my books back to the library, even long after I’d finished reading. It sounds silly, but they would sit in my car and I’d have to really push myself to detour and head to the library. That changed once I started building up long hold lists online. Books are always coming in, so I have a reason to get there (and get things back on time). Plus, the hold lists save me time and disappointment if something isn’t available when I visit.

Switch Into OverDrive

Look, I’m not going to lie, OverDrive itself isn’t the best selling point. It’s a little clunky, but all of its features make it totally worth navigating. Though it depends on your library and the options they have available, OverDrive makes it possible for patrons to check out e-books and audiobooks, which can then be accessed through the OverDrive app. I’m more of a paper book gal, but I love the option to grab a book from OverDrive whenever I need one. Added bonus? I just discovered one of my library systems allows e-book holds prior to publication, so definitely keep an eye out for that.

Maria Semple

It’s (Not) All About the Books

Don’t run away! Books are great, I love them the most. But libraries have a ton to offer outside the bookish realm. Aside from all the amazing community resources they provide, they also offer movies! Somehow I always forget that I can just run up and grab a DVD, but Hoopla makes it possible to stream movies, music, and TV shows from your library.

Did any discoveries make your library use easier?

  • Karen

    I don’t think we have OverDrive but there are some tools to download audio books from the library system which I really like. Saves having to fuss over CDs which get damaged. I do get over enthused and reserve far too many books which all have a habit of arriving at the same time

    • As a former library employee, we don’t mind! The more books that are checked out, the better. Circulation numbers are what count — not if you read them or not. :-)

    • Always happens to me, too!

  • Heck yes to all of this. I am already cherishing my Seattle library card. I’m also eligible for a King County card, which if I’m not mistaken would bring my max check outs and holds to 50 each. That’s 100 books at a time, Shannon. A HUNDRED BOOKS. I would be so paralyzed by choice!

  • Elena

    Once again, I’m green with envy. What a wonderful library system! In Spain you have to go to borrow books and there is no waiting list.

  • I was one of those serious readers who never used the library too! And your Library Checkout posts basically motivated me to figure out my library’s Overdrive system (so thank you). Now the only thing keeping me from reading almost exclusively from the library is my County’s tiny, tiny new release collection (BOO Westchester County!!).
    I love the no commitment reading you get from library books…you’re not limited to a 10% sample (like Amazon) before having to buy, but you can bail on a book at any point with no monetary sunk cost or review obligation…which has made me willing to take more risks on books I may not have picked up before.

    • Being able to take risks is so true! I’ve definitely picked up some books I wouldn’t have read otherwise.

  • OverDrive is super clunky but I’m hoping they keep updating it. I wish I could read the book in my Kindle app so I had more control over the font / sizing / screen color, etc.
    My library supports BookMyne, which is a great little app for keeping your lists sorted, seeing when things are due. It even lets you renew and hold things.

    • Hayley

      I’m a librarian and I don’t even use the OverDrive app. I use the website, then send books straight to my Kindle account! It’s clunky, for sure.

  • I took a library hiatus for years due to too many fines and too little ambition. I then entered the dark/bright days of buying ALL THE BOOKS (dramatic, but really) and wound up having twice as much as I could fit in my apartment without causing mass amounts of chaos. I took the time to reduce my books by about half (got rid of about 450 and have about 500 currently). I now use the library and OverDrive and feel so much better for it. Life is good. My bank account is happy. (I still buy books, but not nearly as many. This is a sad but good thing.)

    • That’s such a huge cull! But I’ve been the same way lately…I pretty much only hang on to/buy books that I’ve loved or have some kind of serious connection to.

  • This is such a great list, Shannon! I used to shun the library too. Once I got to a certain age, it just seemed so luxurious to be able to buy all the books. But my reading speed has far outstripped my earnings at this point so the library has been such a lifesaver. It helps that I work around the corner from one. From the time I started using the library as a child, I’ve been TERRIBLE at returning books on time, incurring horrible fees and feeling like a terrible person. Online renewal helps with that too – if I really can’t get them back in time, I can renew them. Unless someone is waiting for one, then it goes back unread. Letting go of the idea that all the books must be read has also been incredibly freeing!

    • Online renewal saves me over and over again, too! I usually do it prematurely just knowing that I’ll end up keeping a book too long ;)

  • Amanda

    I love this! And my favorite CPL feature nearly is the museum passes! A free week to visit fabulous museums?!

  • I used to have loads of trouble with library fines, but I made a small alteration that has almost completely eliminated the problem. I only ever go to the library on Saturdays. Every Saturday, I go on the library website and renew any books that are going to fall due that day, and that’s an established part of my Saturday routine. That way, nothing ever falls overdue!

    • This is so smart! I think I remember you mentioning this before and following that suggestion might have been part of getting me on track to start :)

  • The library is my favorite part of our neighborhood! I can honestly say I’ll miss it more than anything else! We live really close to one of our branches, like five blocks, so we routinely visit during the week to return and peruse after work. I will admit that I probably take out way more than I can actually read, but it’s just so hard when the shelves are filled with so many fascinating books! Our particular library is really good with display themes that introduce me to so many titles, which you would think wouldn’t happen when I’m here in book blog land, but it does! I also highly recommend Hoopla to anyone who lives in an area that offers it. I use it for audiobooks exclusively and think it’s pretty user-friendly.

    • Oooo, I don’t think I’ve checked out the audiobooks on Hoopla! I’ve used it for movies, but didn’t notice the audiobook section.

  • I must admit I love OverDrive even if it takes up quite a bit of space on my iphone. It’s perfect for audios. I have a hold on everything and then they just come automatically. I haven’t tried OverDrive with e-books yet. My estimation of my library has gone way up in recent years. It gets a lot of good & up to date print books so I dont have to spend $$.

    • Totally agree that OverDrive is much better for audio, I have a harder time using it for e-books. My library is the same way with up to date books, it’s so nice!

  • I love libraries so much that I worked at one til we moved a couple months ago and I’m hoping to be working at one again soon. I’m always baffled by readers who buy all their books (especially e-books!) — I can’t imagine spending that much money, especially since chances are most won’t be 5-star reads. I also love the library for DVDs, and the library where I worked in Ohio had an amazing selection. Unfortunately, I was appalled to see the library here in Hawaii actually charges for DVD checkouts! The horror!

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