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  • Writer's pictureEmily

The Reading Life: the Trouble With Holds

As librarian and a life-long enthusiastic library user, I love putting holds on books at the library. You don’t have to try to catch the book that you want; the library will catch it for you, and hold it at the desk for around a week. It’s awesome. And now you can put holds on e-books. The system sends a notification when the book is ready, and with a click, it’s yours!

So how is it possible that I’m going to complain about holds, something that I love, at the library, a place that I love? Oh, I always find a way.

  • Too many holds coming in at once.

  • Having holds on new books, and knowing that there are other holds on it, so you need to read it quickly and get it back.

  • Putting on a hold when you are in the mood for a book and getting it when you're not.

  • Being able to see how many people are waiting.

Too many holds coming in at once

Too many holds coming in at once is more of a problem with e-books, at least in the library systems that I’ve used. In a large consortium, like a state-wide library, the e-book system isn’t good at guessing when the book will be due. Libby has added new features like being able to move back in line when your turn comes, and sometimes libraries see the hold queue and buy extra copies for their own users.

I try to not place very many holds on e-books at once, but I have got myself into having too many holds on print materials. I just got another notification today that there’s a book waiting for me at the library, and I picked another one up two days ago. I’m reading three other books already. And I even realized that I was going overboard and suspended ANOTHER hold on a print book! How do I keep doing this to myself?

Having holds on new books

Another issue is having holds on new books that come in when you’re in the middle of something else. Whenever I have a new book, I want to read it quickly and get it turned back in, because I know that other people will want to read it. And the new book displays in library are a big deal. I want the book to get right back to that prime spot so that more people will see it.

Also, even if I’m not being nice about it, someone will likely put a hold on it, and then I won’t be able to renew the loan.

Putting on a hold when you are in the mood for a book and getting it when you're not

Everyone who uses the hold system probably has had this happen. A book sounds great, you are so ready for it, you’re going to sink down into the sofa under a blanket, and finally read ‘Salem’s Lot (or whatever). But you can’t get it. So, you place a hold. You’ve always meant to read that book. And then in two months, your turn is up, and you’d forgotten that you even put a hold on it. You just read two scary books. You watched a movie about the Brontes and now you’re reading all their works in chronological order. Where does ‘Salem’s Lot fit into that? It doesn’t!

Obviously, you can get yourself to the nearest bookstore to get the book when you want it, and of course I've done that, but we poor readers can’t afford this habit!

Being able to see how many people are waiting

This is just something that came up for me today. I opened up Libby to listen to an audiobook, and one person is waiting for it, and 3 people are waiting for the other one! Now I feel like someone is breathing down my neck while I listen. I know it’s silly, and it’s not a real gripe.

With the reading challenges that I’ve been setting for myself (not this year’s but others), I’ve been reading more. I’m also working in a public library with a better collection than I’ve worked with in the past. I’ve had good libraries as a patron, but when you work there, it’s hard not to check out every good book that you see. It’s funny that in the first month that I decided that I’m not going to check so many books out, or place more than one hold at once, I’ve got 5 print books, an e-book, two e-audiobooks, another print hold waiting for me at the library, and a hold on another e-book. I think I’m going to suspend the e-book hold.

I’m also reading a book for my reading challenge (reading my own shelves) and I’m behind one book on that.

No shelf control.

Last post on The Reading Life, I wrote about DNFing, and in the next one, it’ll be trying to keep up.


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