It’s clear by the way libraries have impacted my life that I am totally library-obsessed. In librarian jargon, there’s a name for patrons who utilize the full force of library resources and services: the “Library Power User.” This term has always resonated with me, since, like many librarians, I am a power user and have been since I was the kid who lived down the block from the library and would live there. Power users are the lifeblood of a library, helping the library thrive by utilizing each available resource, talking up the library whenever possible, and engaging with the library as an active participant in library events and programming. If you suspect you might be a library power user, see how many of these signs of library addiction you recognize in yourself (with bonuses for leveling up your library game).
(1) You can tell which library a book comes from by its spine alone.
Are you into library bondage? If you binge-request books from the library as much as I do, you know that each library has a unique style of binding. One branch in your system might use a bold, all-caps font on the label while another might keep it in plain and easy-to-read text. You might also be pretty familiar with the different stickers to designate genres. Not all libraries will pick the same images. If you find placing holds with a glass of wine your ideal Friday night, I bet you can tell which library your hold request came from by which Romance genre sticker they used. Looking for ways to maximize the library catalog? We’ve got you covered.
Bonus: You can instantly recognize what the home library is for a book based on the font of the stamp.
(2) When you’re asked to enter your credit card, sometimes you put your library card number.
This has happened to me more times than I can count. When I got a new library card a few years ago, the first thing I did was memorize my barcode number. Since it was before the era of AutoFill and saved passwords, I entered that fourteen-digit string so often while logging in that I knew that I internalized it in a second. My credit card? That I still can’t tell you…except for the last four digits when I select the card from dropdown. You might have even mistakenly started entering your library card number for your Social Security number or other official numerical identification.
Bonus: You’ve actually tried to swipe your library card—accident or not.
(3) You know your library’s hours by heart.
Is your library open right now? If you’re a power user, you probably know the answer to that. A big reason summer isn’t my favorite season is that my library, and several in the system, close on Sundays during July and August. Air conditioning can be iffy, and lots of patrons (and librarians) are on vacation anyway, so I get it, but it still makes the summer longer. Yet come those long months, and even during the year, you, too, can rattle off which of my favorite libraries are open at any time. And while federal holidays are nice, you’d still rather be able to swing by the library. At least you’ll be the only one who knows when those holidays are happening.
Bonus: You’ve waited outside your library for the door’s to open and stayed till the final minutes of closing.
(4) You follow your library on social media.
This isn’t a specific knock toward libraries, but gosh, it can be hard to gain a robust following from your community on social media! Many small businesses might not have dedicated social media managers, and libraries themselves are small-staffed. Nonetheless, libraries are using these spaces to develop their community, almost a digital library in a sense. Besides event notifications, your library might also include fun and informative bookish links, photographs from library events, and news alerts for urgent issues in your town. Having volunteered as the manager of a public library Facebook page and having written my library school thesis on libraries and social media, I know just how much one like or follow can foster a strong relationship between the patron community and the library and increase engagement, possibly even securing more funding. Following your library on social media is one of the best things you can do for them, and it’s totally free.
Bonus: You’ve shared or commented on one of your library’s social media posts.
(5) The book sale is on your calendar months out.
Library book sales are a blissful time for any power user, a great time to stock up on books and grow your own home library for next to nothing, and you know all the strategies for getting the most out of a book sale. Plus, book sales make a great way to donate books and make way for new ones (er, I mean do some tidying up and downsize). Our library’s used books sale happens twice a year: May and November, and you better believe I know when each one is ahead of time.
Bonus: You’ve gone each day of the book sale to go back for more.
(6) You’ve attended a library event.
I don’t mean this as a slight on libraries, but stellar attendance at adult programming events can sometimes be hard to achieve. If you’ve attended a library event, you are an active user of your taxpayer money and library resources beyond circulation materials. While some who aren’t as library-obsessed as you might think a library is just a house of books, you know that your favorite community hub offers exciting programming that enrich your life 365 days a year within the library’s walls.
Bonus: You have synched your library’s event calendar to your phone.
(7) Your library’s phone number is a contact in your phone.
Sometimes you’ve just gotta call about whether the holds have come in, or if you have a circulation question, or need to ask about something you saw on the library’s social media, or can’t think of the name of a book but you know the cover is blue. If you’re a power user, you’ve probably called more than once, which is why your library is in your contact list. You don’t hesitate to call, and maybe the library’s phone number is on speed dial as a favorite contact.
Bonus: The library recognizes you by the sound of your voice when you make a call.
(8) You get your friends hooked on the library
As a power user, you’re a guerrilla marketer for the library. You talk it up all the time and convert your friends and acquaintances into new patrons as a library evangelist. Because of you, everybody gets their eBooks and audiobooks through the library—for free.You’ve maybe even helped a friend install Libby, Overdrive, or another library app. You share pictures of your #libraryhaul and maybe even a #libraryshelfie to share your library adventures and patron passion with the world, inspiring your friends to ask for more information.