How To

How To: Library Books

As some of you may know, on Saturdays I work at a library. I thought I’d create a quick guide to managing library books and making the most of the resources libraries can provide. All posts in the How-To series are available here!

Before I start, usual short disclaimer: I’m basing this on my knowledge of libraries in the UK (specifically, London). I don’t know how much of this transfers over to other countries: you can let me know in the comments!

How To: Library Books

  1. Know the charges and full rules of your library. You don’t want to get caught out: good libraries should make these clear and tell you what will cost and what is absolutely free – if you have questions, check the website or ask!
  2. Refusing to pay charges will likely get your barred. In most cases by agreeing to join/use the library you acknowledge the rules, even if you don’t sign a physical document. Know the rules and stick to them.
  3. The book is your responsibility from the moment you take it out to the moment you return it. If you’re returning a book via machine or even by person, check your card before you leave – if there has been a mistake and the book hasn’t been returned correctly, it’s far easier to fix before you leave the building. Claiming to have returned a book two weeks later will likely end up costing you the price of the book.
  4. Have a dedicated library book shelf or place. It could be next to your normal bookcase, on the top shelf of a bookcase or on a seperate table/room: just make it clear which books are yours and which books are borrowed.
  5. If you’re worried about misplacing books, regularly print a list of all the books on your card. Most libraries should have an online website you can use to check your reservations, loans and overdue’s.
  6. Create limits. If you know you can only remember and keep track of four books a month, only borrow four books a month.
  7. Check online resources. The libraries I work for also loan ebooks to apps such as Overdrive –  I believe this is common practice certainly in the US. These usually expire after a set amount of time therefore you don’t need to remember to return them (also, they’re available offline!).
  8. Pay off fines as soon as possible. Library dependent, sometimes you don’t have to pay them immediately but in this case the library will have a cut-off amount which blocks your library use. Don’t let it get to that stage!

Do you guys use the library regularly? How do libraries work where you live? What strategies do you use to manage your library books? Let me know in the comments!

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6 thoughts on “How To: Library Books”

  1. With my library, once you hit $10, you have to pay your fines until they’re under $10 again. I always pay them down completely when they get to $10, but the ladies are always saying just to pay it to right under $10. Me, I like to have it wiped out so that if I get fines again, I’m not constantly on the edge of too much.
    I love my library and keep all my books in the trunk of my car unless I’m reading one. I don’t ever want to lose one, but if I did, I would definitely pay for it. The ladies and I know each other pretty well by now!
    I love the library and refuse to ever lose the privileges of using it! Great post! 👍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know a local library who does that, but where I work, they allow you to get to £10 and then you have to pay it all off at once in order to be able to use the service again. It’s interesting to hear about the similarities and differences internationally between libraries. Thank you!


  2. Hm. I don’t know that my library regularly bars people for fines. You’re allowed to accrue up to a certain amount until they won’t let you check any more books out. Even then I think people just end up using their child’s card or something. And if you argue enough they might waive your first fine, but then you’re responsible for any more, probably because most of the people complaining that they don’t deserve the fine are lying. I have heard quite a few patrons complaining the library always fines them for books “their child didn’t rip.” Seems strange that your child so regularly checks out torn books when the library workers inspect all the returned materials for damage before they reshelve them. ;)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Personally, my library lets you get to a certain amount and then you have to pay it all off. With fines, it depends on the situation – we generally don’t charge for children’s books if they’re damaged since it can be difficult to trace who was responsible, but for teen and adult books we absolutely will. People who argue about fines are the most annoying part of my job, to be honest – most won’t argue over late fees but many will argue over lost books. People have a lot of tricks and library staff are aware of most of them, so we tend to have a policy of the first time we’re willing to be slightly more lenient, but once a pattern develops we’ll be harsher. Often people will be temporary barred until they’re paid for their lost book, which is unfortunate but it’s the only way we can get the money to rebuy the book, sadly.


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