Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Best Way To Use The Library: The Reserve Section

The current economy is in a bad state. We have all seen the headlines and many of us are even suffering the loss of a job. All of us are suffering the loss of money in our savings if it was invested in the stock market. As a result, there are lists upon lists of how to cut family costs and save money on a daily basis. One suggestion that I have seen over and over again is to use the library. It is offered as a suggestion so often that I believe we often skip over this suggestion and say to ourselves “yeah, yeah, use the library. What else can I do?” I encourage you to not skip over this suggestion, but instead to use it to it’s fullest advantage: The Reserve Section

Why Use the Reserve Section:

Most public libraries are part of a county system that is branched out into various cities. For example, a county library system could have upwards of 20 to 30 “branches”. That means that all of the “branches” share the library materials that are in the county library system. Therefore, when you go to your city library, the resource that you are looking for could very well be at a different branch at the time that you need it.

Additionally, many of the popular resources are already checked out and in order to get them you need to get on the waitlist. Even if a county library system has 30 copies of a particular resource, all of them might be checked out and the waitlist could be over 200 people long.

I am here to say that the best way to use your public library is from the comfort of your own living room or office (wherever you store your computer). Although it is fun to go to the library and browse the shelves, the resources you are going to find by doing that are going to be the older ones. If you are looking to get a hot new resource the best way to do it is by use the reserve section of your library.

How to Use the Reserve Section:

To use the reserve section you will need to know how to use the catalog search section of your county library system web site. If you are unsure of how to use this you will need to make a visit to your city library and talk with the resource librarian. He/she will be more than happy to show you how to use this resource.

Once you know how to look resources up in the library catalog you simply search for the resource you are looking for and reserve it for yourself. If it is a popular resource you will get on the wait list and will have to wait your turn. But if it is a resource that isn’t as highly in demand you will put in your request and it will be shipped to your city library within a week.

Once you reserve the resource you can sign up for e-mail/telephone notification to let you know when your resource is waiting for you at your city library. Usually, once you receive the e-mail/telephone notification you will have 5 days to go and pick up the resource. Ta-da, the resource you want is ready and waiting for you to stop by and pick it up!

Tips and Tricks:

A good way to find out what resources you might want is by using For example, if you are looking for a children’s book, do a children’s book search on That way you can see the top sellers and get reviews. Although the library catalog will give descriptions of resources, I find that often times the descriptions and reviews on Amazon are much better.

Sign up for e-mail notification from your library that tells you when your materials are due in 5 days. That way you can either renew your resource on-line or plan a trip to the library to return your resource on time.

Another good way to decide which books you might want to put on reserve is to make a trip to your local book store with a pad of paper and a pen. Go through the aisles and write down the titles and authors of the books you would like to read. When you get home put these materials on reserve and when they are available they will be waiting for you at the library.

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