Recirculating books

I use the Ottawa Public Library a lot.

First, because I am frugal. It’s so cheap to use the Library … it’s free.

Second, because I got over my need to hold onto books, to have walls of books that “prove ” that I am literate or educated. Four (or was it six) years of University English Lit books moved out the second time I moved house.

And because it is risky to buy a book, what if you don’t like it, or it has no “keeping” value. Money Lost. At the Library, it’s  risk free.

I seldom go into the stacks anymore. I reserve books online, as I come across titles or reviews or guest speakers or see a mention in the newspaper. The National Post is so full of book excerpts I can get a good idea if I like the subject, then shift on-line and reserve it. Easy peasy.

And then the ever so thoughtful public library emails me to tell me my book is ready, saved for me on a special shelf, with my name on it, ready to pick up. So quick. Then even email me to remind me if I should return it.

They keep the current best sellers on a special shelf near the front door, so I don’t have to search. They keep a shelf of new buys too. AND they keep a shelf of topical books too. Want a Christmas book? They’re all on a shelf, right at the front door, collected together for you to choose from. No need to master the Dewey decimal system or alphabetical order. And most recently, they stick out a trolley of “recently returned” books so you can see what other people are reading.

The Library promotes patience, though, if you reserve a book and find you are 937th for one copy. I notice though that when the list grows long, more copies of the book appear. For really popular books, they might have 50 copies. This made me wonder what happens next year when that popular author comes out with a new book. Fifty new copies? And no one to read last years? So my suggestion to the OPL is to create another bookshelf near the front door, call it Best Sellers of Last Year and put out those surplus copies. If they were worth reading last year, they should be this year too. And jazz it up from time to time, by putting out the best sellers of 1959, or 1989.

Now I must confess to getting fussier in my old age. I always reserve the large print edition, if it is available. Not only are the wait times usually much shorter than for the regular print, but they are wonderfully easy on the ageing eyes.

A family member is coming home this Christmas with a Kindle, so I look forward to playing with that. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be making fewer trips to the Library and getting my books sent to me over the internet.

You can teach old dogs new tricks.

7 thoughts on “Recirculating books

  1. If you go the eReader route like the Kindle (I use a Kobo Touch) you can get eBooks from the OPL as well. As you noted about printbooks there can sometimes be quite a wait for the eBook to become available. One advantage – you don’t even have to go to the library. Once you get the email saying the book is ready just log in and download then transfer to your eReader

  2. Re: best sellers – typically when circulation wanes and all those copies aren’t needed, the extras are withdrawn and put for up for sale. And of course, wear and tear on popular books is pretty high, so the collection tends to weed itself over time.

  3. A friend of mine who is a librarian tells me paperbacks can last about 7-9 readings (hardcovers, obviously more)

  4. You can always try your luck downstairs at the Friends book shop, too, for minimal investment. And, if you don’t want to keep the book, back-donate it when you’re done.

  5. I too love the library, and I love that I can now download library e-books right to my Sony ereader and never leave the house! Be careful though – the last time I checked, the Kindle was not compatible with the ePub format that the libary uses, it could only read the amazon format books. If you do get an ereader make sure it can handle the ePub format or you may be forced to shell out for your ebooks.

  6. If you are still shopping, go to and click on the ‘Greetings and Gifts ‘ link at the bottom of the home page – you’ll find librarian’s book recommendations and a chart comparing all the e-readers that are compatible with the Library’s e-Book collection.

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