Loving The Library A Little Too Much?

I love the library. If you are a regular in these parts you will know this as I have mentioned it quite a few times. As a youngster the library was a place of wonder I would go at the weekend with mum and go find a new book to love as well as finding some fascinating tome on something like spontaneous human combustion. Then at school again it became a place I loved (because ALL those books) and often a refuge (from being bullied), it sounds a bit sad but books became my friends. This has meant that as an adult, well since I started reading in earnest again, I have always supported and joined the library local to me. I am slightly worried I might be taking it too far and indeed I may be loving them a bit too much and a little too selfishly. (Is that possible with libraries?)

You see where I am in the Wirral I have a lovely library down the road which resembles a stately home meets museum, brimming with wonderful books. Whilst I haven’t maxed out the amount of books I have from there, I have borrowed quite a lot…

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Then, lucky me, near where I work in the centre of town I also have another library (a literally amazing one) in town which I am also borrowing from as you can also see…


Now some of you may think that this is not that bad, some of you may think it is excessive. I love to support my library but I think that sometimes I am a little bit naughty, you see I am one of those people who renews books over and over and over and over… or I take them back and then take them out again on the next visit, often getting asked “erm, you have taken this out before”, which seems a bit unfair to everyone else who might want to borrow them. I know this is partly what the library is for but it is also there so we can try new things, whether we end up liking them or not. They shouldn’t be gathering dust on my shelves though.

So I have made some rules, this happened last night actually when I realised my books were up for return or renewal, that I must stick by.

  • I can borrow the maximum amount of books and not feel guilty, that is what the library is for and we are blooming lucky to have them, if we don’t use them they will vanish.
  • I am ONLY allowed to renew a book the maximum amount of times that I can. If after that I don’t want to read it, just let it go, if I still do but haven’t I need to buy myself a blinking copy. (I have just done this with Ben Myers Pig Iron and Lee Rourke’s The Canal which I have renewed well over ten times each!)
  • I need to read at least one or two library books a month, this will stop me hoarding if books start to just linger.
  • I need to be more adventurous in the library and take some more risks.
  • I should donate more (because in the Wirral you can) books to the library rather than have those gathering dust on my shelves. I can check them out again if I suddenly have the urge to read them.

I returned several books today; of course I borrowed a couple more. How could I not?

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So, that is my new library pact with myself. I can stay loving the library but not in such a bonkers way. It will also make me think about what I borrow a little more and be aware of how often I press that renew button, which I have never known if is a good move or not? What about you, what is your relationship with the library? Which gems have you discovered thanks to your library or a lovely librarian?


Filed under Book Thoughts, Library Loot, Random Savidgeness

42 responses to “Loving The Library A Little Too Much?

  1. I like those British library crime classics was looking at those myself the other day Simon may do same and get one from library to try I love my library.use it all time just shame never get all of them read but try to get most read

  2. My fiction reading is almost exclusively from the library and so I am definitely guilty of renewal abuse. However, I am good about donation and not holding things past the due date if someone is waiting for a particular book. One thing I love about my library (the main library in San Francisco) is that it has a pretty big collection of literature (old and new) in French, since buying those can be rather pricey.

  3. I read an interesting article recently about “weeding” libraries and what went into those decisions like recent check-outs, and really you’re just doing those books a favor by checking them out over and over again!

    I try and get at least one (pre-selected) book a month from the library and if I’m feeling super adventurous I’ll wander the stacks and find a second random.

  4. I’m a librarian so I have a very intense relationship with my library 🙂 I’m in the US so things may be different for us, but I think you should feel ok about checking out a lot of books at one time. Since we don’t make money, our measure of success is our circulation numbers. Every thing you check out counts! (And so do renewals.)

    • I was lecturing two of my co-workers today about this. They don’t have library cards and I get very cross. Though to be fair one of them once had an allergic reaction to some bacteria that had been left on a library book – true story.

  5. Nancy S

    I’m a huge fan of my public library ….. since I don’t have kids, I feel like it’s my way of getting some benefit from my tax dollars. But, one of my great pressures (sad to say) is when too many books on reserve arrive at the same time!

  6. I like going to the book sales in library basements or on special long weekends stacked on tables under tents in parking lots. This way I can collect and simultaneously support the library.

    • I donate books to the library. I don’t buy books from them though, here in the UK they are normally covered in stamps and stickers and I like the books on my shelves to look almost unread, isn’t that bad?

  7. I’m a terrible library user – I tell myself the fines I build up must help, though (and always pay them, take more books, cycle starts again).
    But what I really want to say – AH! The Spinning Heart! Such a fantastic book! There was a book swap at Christmas, and two of us brought that in, and both copies were among the first books to go.

    • I don’t know where in the world you are but I found out something shocking. Fines in the UK do not go to the library but into the councils funds and can be spent on anything. They should go to the library I feel!

      • Argh! I’m in the UK and I had no idea that the libraries don’t get the fines! That’s kept very quiet. I bet people would be more prompt with their books if they knew – I know I will be.

  8. I think you rules sound excellent, Simon. My librarians would definitely approve. I renewed a book the maximum number of times recently and, seeing that no one had a hold on it, asked if I could return it and check it out again. The 40-something librarian advised me that this was “not cool”. She did it anyway but there is nothing like being shamed by a librarian to make you want to reform your ways.

    • Oooh really, they shouldn’t be saying ‘not cool’ I would be furious. If no one else wants the book then its good it is loaned to you – that seems right and proper to me.

  9. If it’s any comfort, I’m even more bonkers than you, as we live in a rural area and have 5 village libraries (all quite well-stocked) that we go to regularly and take out the maximum amount of loans (me and the kids). We’re only allowed to renew about 3-4 times, so we’re often late, paying fines etc. After a lifetime of being very good and legal, it’s painful! My one attempt to be ‘better’ is that we stopped going to one of the libraries which is a little further afield (and where we only had the children’s cards anyway, so it hasn’t affected my borrowing too much).

    • Only four libraries to you name now, what are you thinking woman?!? Hahahahaha! You have made me feel like you are a kindred spirit. I think I am still technically joined to Manchester Library, I just don’t go enough. Though they have a lovely new one, well refurbished, too.

  10. I’m going to start using our local library again – it’s definitely a case of use it or lose it so I think people like you guys who use them a lot are essential! It used to be right round the corner but we’ve moved to the other end of the town centre but, hey, the walk will do me good. I’d love to be able to donate to our local library but they don’t accept donations – they say they can’t cope with the amount they’ve got in the past when they’ve taken them. I guess that’s because this is quite an affluent town, but it does seem a waste! They’re also often selling off old stock for 50p or £1 and I’ve definitely get a few bargains. It’s great for books you can’t afford or the ones where you’re not sure if you’ll really enjoy them. I am often paying fines, though, which I hate and it’s really dumb of me considering you can just phone to renew your books – my mind’s like a sieve sometimes though! But it’s not a huge amount of £ and I don’t mind giving them it.

    • Yes, use it or lose it indeed! I always hope that if people like a review I have written and want to give a book a whirl that they head to the library straight away before a book shop, isn’t that odd.

  11. you can never love the library too much – it’s a fact!

  12. louise trolle

    I can renew my library books online, only once last year did it reach the limit (11th renewals…) at the moment I have 9 library books lying on my shelf 🙂

  13. This is wonderful and I love that you recognize your patronage is so vital to libraries staying around. Staff and book budget funds are often determined by door counts and circulation stats so keep checking out books (even if you don’t get to them all).

    • I try my hardest I really do. You would have been more proud today as I took my work colleague Rachael, who I am also in a book group with, to the library today and made her get loads of books I have loved.

  14. I think it’s brilliant that you love the library so much! Long may it continue.

  15. I am a library assistant and currently work in an academic library but I have previously worked in a public library. From my experience librarians don’t mind you renewing the same book over and over again, it happens a lot. They are just pleased libraries are getting used.Often circulation figures decided if a library stays open or closes. Some people take it for granted they will always be there and hopefully they will but there is no guarantee. Librarians enjoy seeing people discover new material (we love being asked for suggestions) but they like to see people go back to favourites as well. So whatever you decide to borrow from a library that’s fine and it’s ok to renew but just bring them back on time as we don’t like fining people.

  16. I can’t believe how nice your local library is! I too am having to establish some rules as I inevitably get things out and renew until I’m forced to take them back. Nowadays I make myself take them back and keep them there though. I’m on a bit of a – always go to the library to have a look before you buy – thing. Especially book club books, though the one I’m reading at the mo is an absolute winner and I’d quite like to own a copy *James Baldwin’s ‘Go Tell it On the Mountain’.)
    Susan Hill’s ‘I’m the King of the Castle’ is awesome by the way. Best book of hers I’ve ever read – that includes the ghost stories.

  17. Amy

    I am exactly the same way, even though the number of books I own but haven’t read borders on scandalous (we won’t focus on those two facts being related). I chose to focus on that checkouts will keep the book around so the book remain available for others longer once returned (meaning staves off library purging). I take this so far as to take out books that look dusty and needing love, even if I own them, thus have no intention of reading them Now. Horrible??

    • Oh I am the same Amy. I own loads and loads of books, I get sent loads and loads of books and I buy loads and loads of books, plus borrow loads and loads of books, but I think that is a good thing! Ha!

  18. My current relationship with my library system is to place holds online and then go in when they’ve arrived and pick up a stack of books that I specifically want or need and then try and get out without looking at any of the shelves or displays. This is the only way I can manage my numbers. I also renew as many times as possible and, yes, I feel a little guilty about it sometimes. But I’m sure I’m not the only one so why should others get to do it but not me? 😉

    • That is like having a lovely mini treat at irregular regular intervals. I have to say though I really like a browse, you find random gems that way and experimenting is part of the fun for me too.

  19. quinn

    always loved my local libraries…i was raised across the street from old stone library and would spend my summers there playing in the stacks, leaving ‘coded’ messages for my friends (in the ‘religion’ section cause no one ever went there).
    now i live in very ‘conservative’ usa state, so whenever the country library system gets a lgbt book i take it out to let the ‘system’ know someone is reading it….even if i already own it.
    numbers do count. also now country is issuing mostly download editions of bks, so taking out paper copies…fingers crossed…may make a difference in how they order/stock.
    so u go for it….check them out! enjoy! quinn

    • Ooh I would have loved to have been brought up opposite a library, I would never have gone anywhere else. I am quite jealous. I love how you do that with LGBT titles, all power to you Quinn!

  20. Libraries are about books but they are also about the buildings that house the books. We have a central library in the CBD and several branches. Trouble is when Council decides to upgrade the branches they turn them into multi-function spaces including a counter to conduct business with Council, a large glass wall into a meeting room, computers in a circle in the middle so that all can stroll around the users and peer over their shoulders.- no privacy there, the books way down the back and the overall impression of being in a vast noisy railway station. So I have transferred my affections to a small weatherboard branch between the cricket oval and a smaller supermarket. Only two computers, only one attendant and a smaller selection of books but the perfect place to pick up books that you have reserved online. The perfect library.

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