Nothing makes me feel quite as at peace as being in the public library. (At least, in non-plague times.) Being surrounded by books is comforting, especially when no one is trying to get me to buy anything. One of the things I miss most about pre-pandemic life is long, luxurious browsing at the library: looking through all the graphic novels, snooping through each display, sampling a page or two of book with covers that catch my eye.
Despite having worked in bookstores for about ten years, I’ve always been more of a library user than a book buyer. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a solid collection of unread books at home, but the majority of my reading has usually come from the library. Wherever I’ve lived or worked, I have never been more than a block away from my nearest library, so it couldn’t be more convenient.
Here was my system: every time I heard about a book that sounded interesting, I put a hold on it, or I set a Google Calendar reminder if it was far from the publication date. Many times, the book wouldn’t have been processed yet, or it had lots of holds to go through first, so I could tell myself that by the time the book came in, I would be all caught up and could read it. In reality, every week — often more frequently than that — I would pick up a tower of holds from the library that had just come in, far more than I could realistically read.
Usually when I brought them home, there would already be a stack of library books on my bedside table (and dresser…and maybe the floor). I’d organize everything by due date and prioritize my most-anticipated reads, inevitably taking back a good chunk of those books unread. In my defense: it helps circulation numbers, which means the library theoretically gets more funding! It’s a public service!
Nowadays, ARCs have crowded out the top of my dresser. I don’t get into the library as much as I usually would — only every few weeks to try to sneak in some manga between my ARCs. I still have a long list of audiobooks on hold, though, which I juggle between multiple library apps on my phone. And, of course, I have my library card memorized — just in case.
How much do you use your library? The heavy hitters of library patrons are the power users: the people who use the library the most. I would definitely call my former self a power user, but lately I’ve been firmly in the casual patron category. Where do you fall? Take this quiz and find out!
Want to become more of a library power user? Start with 6 Ways To Become a Power User of the Public Library and 5 More Ways To Be A Power Library User!