12 July 2011

How to only get as many library books as you can actually read

Time to give away all my secrets! Or this one, which may be variously applicable to you depending on your local book-furnishing services. Here is a tip for bulk library users, or frequent swipers, or "my people," what ever you prefer to be called.

In my library system I'm allowed 15 reserves, and normally I keep that list very close to the maximum. (It was 10 for a while before the NY Public Library smiled upon me once more.) Sometimes, this resulted in my having 5-6 books to pick up in one trip, all non-renewable, all things I really wanted to read. Bad news!  Poor unbookening!

Enter the freeze button.

(Hey Elizabeth! This is next month's book club book. I wish I had remembered to grab my copy when I was at home.)

Freeze allows you to add books to your hold list without getting closer to the top of the pile -- essentially a "not right now" feature. In the NYPL system, you hit the freeze check mark and then "Modify Selected" to confirm your choice. You can 'unfreeze' at any time by reversing the process. So what you can do, which is to say what I do, is unfreeze some books you want right away, then unfreeze a few more. I don't know how this works exactly; it's just one of life's great mysteries.

Granted, as long as you have 15 books listed you aren't able to add any more, and the odd book slips through the cracks still, like Dan Barry's BOTTOM OF THE 33RD, which I just had to return without rereading because I didn't get to it before it was due. Still, it's a huge help and you should go play with your local library's web interface (If your library still doesn't do online requests or renewals, I sympathize. In the last place I lived before NYC I had online requests at my local library, but when the book came in a librarian would call me on the phone. Every time. For added funtimes the librarians would call me at work, because they didn't want to spend the long-distance dollars to call my cell phone. I must have sounded So Busy And Important. All of which is to say, I believe you will get there.)


Anonymous said...

Great post! I use my library's on-line request system and like you, I sometimes have to return a book unread. I'll see if we have the unfreeze option. Thanks! ~Jen

Elizabeth said...

I'll be interested to hear what your book club has to say about ISHMAEL. (I'm a little afraid to go back and read it and be confronted with my twelve-year-old self.)

Wade Garrett said...

I'm a big fan of the freeze button! I use it pretty often, because most of the books I request have very long waiting lists, and when more than one or two of them become available at the same time, I'm worried I'll have to return them unread and then get back on a 300-person waiting list before I can check them out again. The freeze button is enormously convenient.

jess s said...

My library calls it "suspend" instead of freeze, but the idea is the same. I love that feature & use it shamelessly. I love suspending holds for new releases just when I get to the first spot in line - so I can effectively cut in line when I'm ready to read it. And I use the suspend feature to manage my audiobook consumption more effectively. When I get to the second-to-last disc of my current audiobook, I start unsuspending my other audio holds. The timing is perfect.