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24 Mar 2008 / Julie

Book lending; Netflix style

Growing up I never used the library. Bookstores were places I was allowed to buy as much as i wanted, whereas in toy stores I was limited to one thing. The library was used when I needed books or articles for school research, but not for borrowing pleasure reading. As i grew up, my “pleasure reading” included a lot of books needed for my own personal research. ILL departments around the world have long-since been my best friend. But I have a long-standing record of never reading the books I borrow from the library (unless they were tied to a deadlined assignment for school).

Even just this morning, I just returned 6 books, all overdue and unread back to the library. All but one of them I wanted to read for research reasons. I work in a library and (luckily) while I accrue fines just like everyone else, eventually they all get waived. Reason: Staff. If it wasn’t for the waiving of the fees, I’d never use the library. Why? Because my reading / research habits do not mesh well with the borrowing time allowed.

What I was doing for a while was borrowing books from the library, flipping through them to make sure they were what i thought they were, seeing if they were any good, then returning them immediately and buying them used so that I could read them whenever i got to them without worrying about fines. The plus side of buying them is i can scrawl my notes in them as i read… something i won’t do to library books.

This is why i love Netflix. I have a one-at-a-time unlimited subscription and usually watch the movie rather quickly, then returning it for the next one. But sometimes, like with the movie currently sitting on my tv, i’ve had it for just about a month and haven’t yet touched it. But I know, that I can keep it until I get the time or urge to watch it (i’m planning to have that urge later on tonight, just to get things rolling) without worry of the DVD police knocking on my door telling me i’m overdue and oh, why the way, you owe us $ on top of it.

I get that libraries get a lot of money from fines collected (and mine would probably get even more if they didn’t waive my fines) but it doesn’t work for me. I’d love to support my local library, helping raise the circ counts, and save myself money, but buying the book still seems like the best option.

Why can’t libraries let card holders borrow books until they return them?

Okay, so I’ll say books aren’t my gig. I’m a consumer of them, sure, but my gig is reference- virtual even. And although I took collection development in school, I don’t claim to know the intricacies of how to keep a collection safe, yet with high circulation. I’m sure the netflix-for-books model has a million and one reasons why it wouldn’t work but I dare a library- somewhere, anywhere- to try this out. If you do, let me know how it goes and how i can get a card from you.

random ramblings for a monday morning

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