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I had a friend once tell me she couldn’t afford to use the library.
What do you mean you can’t afford the library? The library is FREE.
Yes, my friends, it is free…until you have overdue fines on 57 books and owe money for the book your toddler dropped in the toilet and that darn missing Taylor Swift CD you never wanted in your house in the first place.
Yeah, the library doesn’t seem so “free” at that point. I used to joke that library fines were how I helped to fund our local library until I learned something horrible. Our library doesn’t see a single penny of the overdue fines I pay. I don’t know how it works at your library but here the money goes straight to the city.
Not cool, City People, not cool…
So yes, I totally get it. We have torn our house apart looking for that missing book only to have it show up 8 months later in the crack of the couch with a moldy apple, LEGO mini-figure, and the card the kids made for Grandma. I knew there had to be a better solution.
Here are five ways to keep track of those darn books and avoid library fines.
Have an established bookshelf or basket.
We have what we call in our house The Library Book Shelf. It has two metal locker baskets (ours are vintage but you can buy cool ones off of Amazon). Any library books not in use are supposed to reside in these baskets. Having all of your library books in one place drastically cuts down on stress and last minute panic on library days.
Check on drop off locations.
Our libraries here allow us to drop off books at any branch and at several other locations (such as the grocery store). Find out where alternate drop off locations are and make it easy on yourself!
Print a receipt.
There are several ways to do this. Our library offers printed receipt but I always lose them or end up stuffing chewed up gum in them. Who knows, maybe you’ll have better luck than me.
Take a photo.
You can take a quick picture with your cell phone as soon as you get home (or before if you kids love to read books on the way home from the library). This way you will have a simple visual record of the books you checked out.
Track them online.
I regularly use our library’s online catalog to put books on hold, check to see what is out, what is about to be due and what books we are still waiting for. You can print out these lists to make sure you have all the books before you head to the library.
Track them with an app on your phone.
Inside Higher Ed has a great rundown of apps that you can use to catalog your home library. You could just as easily download one of the apps to your phone and log your library books.
Use only one library card.
At our local library, each patron can borrow 75 items at a time. We have nine kids living at home right now and Chuck and I each have our own library cards… that means our family can check out a total of 825 books, movies and CDs before we go over our limit. Does that number scare you? Because that is the stuff of nightmares for this minimalist mama.
By limiting books to one card it is easier to check online to see what is out, pay fines (who wants library fines spread out on eleven different cards) and keep our book borrows activities in check.
Use Library Elf
Library Elf is completely free! You can add in every library card in your house and it will keep track of the books you have checked out, books you put on hold and it will email you to remind you when they are almost due. Library Elf has been a complete game changer for me!
Are you a regular library user? What are your best tips to avoid library fines?