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3 Ways To Request Books At Your Local Library

Libraries are a touchstone in a community. As a librarian myself, this is a hill I will die on.

Okay, that's a little dramatic, but you get that I'm passionate about this subject.

Libraries have been a regular part of my life since is was six years old, when I was finally (finally!) old enough to get my own card at the local library. Let me tell you, I thought I was a big shot when I got that laminated card in my hot little hands. Since then, I've spent countless hours of my life in a library, searching the shelves for that one book I really, really wanted. And I'm sure, as readers, you have as well.

But what about when you can't find the book you want? One you know is out in the world, waiting to be read but not available at your local library? What do you do then?

This, my friends, is where I come in to help you.

I hosted a webinar for authors a few years ago about getting their books into libraries (and subsequently released a how-to on the same subject). And, as I told them, the information I'm about to relay varies from library to library (according to their acquisition policies). I'm basing this off of personal knowledge in my current position as a librarian at my local library. Be sure to check with your own local library to see what their policies are on acquiring new materials.

That being said, let's get into this! First, you need to...

Ask A Librarian

Silly suggestion, I know, but an important one. Talk to a librarian and see if they have a list of requests for the person in charge of library purchases. Some libraries may require a certain number of patrons request a title before they spend the money to purchase (to ensure they're getting the circulation numbers for their dollars). Other libraries may have strict protocols on what they're allowed to purchases and when. But, it doesn't hurt to ask anyway. The worst they can say is no, right? And if they do say no to purchasing a physical copy of a book you're requesting, be sure to...

Ask About Digital Copies

Many libraries have at least one digital reading service to offer their patrons. Whether it's Libby, Hoopla (my personal favorite as a user), or another service, libraries are making it easier for those with a library card to access digital reading material. Ask your library if they offer a digital reading service for card holders and, if they do, see if the title you are looking for is available there. If not, ask if there's a way the library can request it be added to their catalog of digital offerings. Speaking of requesting things...

Inquire About Interlibrary Loans

This option takes a little more time, but if you're patient, it can be worth the wait. For those not familiar with interlibrary loans, here's how it works. You request a title from your library. The librarian in charge of interlibrary loans (in my library's case, that's me!) puts the request to other libraries into the ILL system. When a library agrees to loan it out, they will ship it to your library for you to borrow, just as if your library had it on-hand.

A note about interlibrary loans, though. Many of them will not loan out titles they've had for less than a year. So, if you're trying to get your hands on the latest Colleen Hoover book, you may be out of luck with interlibrary loans.


There you have it, three ways you can request the books you really, really want to read from your local library. And I do want to point out that, no. You are not being a bother when you ask a librarian about requesting a book. We want you to inquire about new materials. Not only does it show your involvement with the library, it gives librarians insight into what people in their community are interested in reading (which means we can work on keeping our collection current). Will a library be able to accommodate every single request that comes through? Of course not, it would be fiscally impossible. But we'll do our best to get the book you want in your hands, one way or another.


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