Libraries have come a long way since I was a kid. I remember marching into our local library as an elementary school kid and sifting through decks of library catalog cards. I would then scour the aisles to find the book that peaked my interest or would help me with a school project.
My trips to the library look quite different today. I browse titles or search for a book online, request a copy and breeze into the library to locate my holds on a conveniently located “Reservation Shelf”. This convenience has helped to reignite a passion for learning and exploring through reading and a newfound appreciation of local libraries.
So, what are libraries doing differently these days?
The library networks I have been a part of over the past few years have offered a nifty online portal and accompanying app. Through the portal/app- I can browse books and media, place requests, renew books and (if the necessity arises) pay for fines. Gone are the days of forgetting to call the library to request/renew that one book YET AGAIN. Gone are the days of driving to the library only to find out that the book I am looking for is checked out with a mile long hold list. All of this information is a few clicks away!
I can also create lists of items I plan to check out at some point. This comes in really handy as I often am on the go when I receive a book recommendation or remember that I have been meaning to watch that one movie. No more mental notes! I simply grab my phone, search the book and either place a request or put it on my “to read” list. Thank you technology!
Once I request a book from the local library, it shows on my “Holds List” in the app, giving me my place in line so I can estimate when I can expect to have the book available. Once the item is available and (if it was shipped) has arrived at my library location of choice, I receive both a text and an email informing me of it’s availability. That might seem like overkill but I opted in and really appreciate the text notification.
Scenario: I am running errands (not checking my email or the app) and receive a text letting me know that my book is available… Bingo! This text just saved me an extra trip to town. I also get a reminder email a few days before a book is due. All in all, I rate these notifications as “Very Helpful”.
Checkout and Return Technology
Our local library has checkout kiosks. Now, this may not seem all that handy but imagine you are attempting to “quickly” grab a few reserved items with a toddler who is hell bent on pulling all of the books within reach off the shelf as quickly as possible. The ability to grab my reserved books/movies, step up to one of the 5 or 6 kiosks without waiting in line, quickly scan my card and my books and head out the door in less that 3 minutes flat is PRICELESS.
Our library also has a drive-thru return system. I just pull up and insert my items onto a conveyor-belt contraption. My returns are then whisked into the library, automatically scanned and returned.
B) Mode and Variety of Offering
Many libraries have teamed up with other libraries in a general area to create a library network. From there, patrons of one library can request copies and borrow books from any of the libraries in the network (not just the “home library” you register at!). Oftentimes, the libraries will also do the “heavy lifting” for you! I will often request a book from a library 30 miles away. The network will then ship it to the library 10 minutes from my house. Excellent!
Beyond the obvious extensive book and magazine selection, the local library network has a wide variety of movies and TV shows available for your viewing pleasure. This includes blockbuster hits and newly released shows which is AWESOME. I basically use it as a free movie rental service. Now, there may be a bit of a wait for certain titles (I think we were initially number 48 in line for “Hidden Figures”), but the wait is a “price” I am willing to pay.
Overdrive and other Partner Apps
Many libraries partner with a service called “Overdrive”. Through Overdrive, our library offers a plethora of audiobooks and e-books. To “borrow” the book, I simply download the title from the Overdrive app. I then have 3 weeks to finish and return the book.
There are similar offerings with Hoopla and a few other apps out there. In addition to audiobooks and e-books, Hoopla includes TV shows, movies and workout videos. The Hoopla offering through our library is a bit dated on the TV show and movie side of the house, but there are still a few gems in there.
Give it a Try!
If you haven’t check out your local library recently, I suggest you give it a go. Libraries are becoming more convenient, providing a larger variety offerings and up to date titles to meet your reading, watching or listening desire!
And don’t forget… this is all available to you simply by being a tax-paying member of your community!
Always an Adventure,
Mrs. Adventure Rich