How To Get Your Library To Work For You

Book Blogging has the potential to be a really expensive hobby. If you buy all your books, you could be spending upwards of $500 a year (estimating $10 a book x reading a book a week [52 weeks]= $520]. Thankfully, we live in a time where libraries are pretty abundant. I’m hoping as a book blogger you’re making good use of your library resources!

I’ve worked in a library for 2 years now so I thought I might share some of my tips on how to get the most of your library experience.

The Books

Physical books are still one of the most prominent features in libraries. No matter the size, public libraries purchase many of the ‘big’, best seller books. This should get you covered for many of the highly featured and coveted books in the book blogging world. Many libraries have a budget to buy books that are requested by patrons. Feel free to suggest purchases if they don’t own a book you’re interested in reading. With as many books that are published each week, it’s really easy to gloss over books. Use common sense with your suggesting though. 10+ suggestions a week is a bit excessive.

Did you know many libraries are able to get books they don’t own for you? Yes, most libraries across the US participate in Interlibrary Loans. That means if your library doesn’t own a book (and it isn’t on order), they can send out a request to libraries that do own the book to see if they will loan it to you. For most books, the fee is pretty low ($0-5). If you’re interested in rare, special books, you may need to pay a bit more. The biggest conditions you need to remember are it takes a while to get the book because it’s being shipped from somewhere else and the checkout time isn’t flexible. ILLs are alsoΒ  super helpful if you ever get stuck with a weird subject for school and you can’t find books at your library.


Many libraries are getting involved with eBooks. eBook circulation is definitely on the rise. I know our collection has grown wonderfully over the past 3 years. Many books are both in our physical and eBook collections. That’s fantastic if you’re anxious to read a particular title. You can put yourself on both hold lists and see which book turns up first for you! Then there’s the fact that not everyone is up to date with eBooks. Sometimes you get a very popular book with little wait time.

I know eNovellas get on some people’s nerves. Who wants to pay $0.99-$2.99 for short little story? Check out your libraries eBook collection! Ours has many of the ones out there. If your library doesn’t own the one you want, suggest it as a purchase.


You’re not limited to being a member of only one library. Take a look at the policies of the libraries around you. Many times you can gain membership if you live in the same county or sometimes the same state as the library. That’s obviously a huge help for those people who live in small communities.

Some libraries allow out of state people get library cards for a fee. The Free Library of Philadelphia is one example where you can pay a yearly fee of $50 to get access to all of their digital materials.

Digital Resources

eBooks aren’t the only digital resources libraries provide. Digital magazines and streaming video services are some of the new trends being offered at some libraries. There are also many research tools provided as well. One of the more fun resources I’ve discovered is NoveList. It’s a great way to discover new books. You’re able to look up books based on theme, content, setting, mood, location, writing style, and many other ways. It has the potential to be hugely valuable to anyone who likes finding readalikes or making book lists.

Buying Books

Buying books from a library?! Yes, some libraries have books to sell. Many of the times when people donate books to the library, the library isn’t able to add the books to the collection because of condition or policies restrict what is able to be added. Those books often times are sold where the funds go to benefit the library. Often times the books are incredibly cheap ($.25-$2). Don’t be afraid to dig around. It may appear to be someone’s collection of Harlequin romance novels but often times there are modern and interesting books in there as well.


Book events largely depend on the types of community you live in. Bigger cities are more likely to have author talks or similar book events going on. Smaller communities can have those type of events going on as well. You might be able to find a book club that appeals to you. Many events don’t require you to be a member to attend. If you are willing to drive, you might be able to find more interesting events going on in the cities around you.

What are your tips on getting the most out of the library?


29 thoughts on “How To Get Your Library To Work For You

  1. I love my local public library! Physical books and DVDs are what I usually get there, but I’m starting to check out ebooks too. I’m glad you mentioned book sales because I’ve found some books that I really want to read, and instead of paying $10 for a new paperback, or even $5 for used, I paid $1 or less for them.

    Ever since my kids were old enough to read, we’ve made it a family tradition to visit the library every Saturday morning. I hope it’s a habit that they carry into adulthood and maybe even share with their kids.

  2. What great post! I love my library. My system is pretty cool too. I don’t know if other places do this, but my library is part of the Central Mississippi Regional Library System, which has about 20 libraries in the system. We all loan books to other branches for patrons and it’s kind of like we are one big library. Does that make sense?

  3. I am incredibly fortunate to have a library that doesn’t charge fees for interlibrary loans. I try not to overuse it, because I know it still costs them money, but I’m always glad to have the option. And I cherish my library’s electronic holdings. I have a humongous OverDrive wish list, which is great for when I’m about to go on a trip and need to load up my ereader.

  4. I love my local libraries! I’m lucky enough to live in a town that has over a dozen libraries that work all with the same free ID. I usually only go to the two that are within walking distance though. One of them is rather small, but I usually find something to read. If it’s not what I was looking for, I just browse the shelves until I find an interesting book. I really wish we had interlibrary loan though. My country is smaller than some US states, but I’d just be happy if I could order a book from a library across town.

  5. This is a great post. Some of the items you mentioned I already knew, some I didn’t.

    I have a pretty great library near me that I use all the time. Within the past year I guess they’ve really stepped up their purchasing of new titles which is awesome. I want to read ALL the books πŸ˜€

  6. Pingback: Monthly Round Up: August 2014 | The Cheap Reader

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