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Library Hack: Get New Stuff Fast

Posted on September 2, 2014 at 6:00 am

By Cara Strickland

I talk about libraries a lot. Those who know me can attest to the fact that I usually end a book or movie recommendation with the words: “I got it at the library.”

Through these conversations, I’ve discovered a common misconception about the kinds of things you can check out through the library. To put it simply: people assume that they can’t get stuff when it’s new. Whether it’s a copy of Frozen, the latest in a sci-fi series, or the bestseller everyone is talking about, I’ve met a lot of people who assume that they can’t get it at the library.

I figured that my one-woman campaign to correct this misconception would be a lot more effective with the help of the internet, so here’s my attempt to do just that. I hope that these strategies help you to become as addicted to the library as I am, as you start to get the things you want, faster.

Strategy #1: Placing Holds Earlier

You might know that you can place a hold on an item in our catalog (also over the phone or in person at any library). When you do this, we will send it to whatever library is most convenient for you when it becomes available. With 25 hold spots to fill, this on its own is cause for rejoicing.

But did you know that an item is in our catalog often long before it is released or published? You can put your name in and secure a good place in line before the book, movie, or album ever hits the street.

You can search specifically for items that you know about by title or author, or you can browse by item type within the “New Arrivals” library. Let me walk you through it:

Click on our Catalog

Library Hack: Get New Stuff Fast | Before you know it, you’ll be watching the latest movies, spinning the newest tunes, and reading your books with the ink still wet.

To the right of the orange “Search” button, there is a link called “Advanced Search

Library Hack: Get New Stuff Fast | Before you know it, you’ll be watching the latest movies, spinning the newest tunes, and reading your books with the ink still wet.

Once you are on the “Advanced Search” screen, under Additional Limits, change “Library” to NEW ARRIVAL.

Library Hack: Get New Stuff Fast | Before you know it, you’ll be watching the latest movies, spinning the newest tunes, and reading your books with the ink still wet.

You can check as many item types as you want (often I’ll browse both DVD Movies and Music Recordings on CD to see what’s coming out soon). I try to do this every couple of weeks so that I don’t miss something exciting.

Strategy #2: Books to Go

Library Hack: Get New Stuff Fast | Before you know it, you’ll be watching the latest movies, spinning the newest tunes, and reading your books with the ink still wet.

You may have seen a display of books, near the New Books, in our libraries. The idea behind these “Books to Go” is a simple one. Our collection development team determines the best-selling books of the moment (available in paperback). Next we ship out several copies of each of these books to each library. These are first come, first serve books, so if you see a copy of the new Stephen King or the latest Stephanie Plum, it’s all yours to check out.

When The Hunger Games had a waiting list in the triple digits, and someone would ask for it hopefully, it was always fun to be able to hand them a “Books to Go” copy, no waiting needed.

I can’t count the number of books I’ve been waiting in line to read that I’ve managed to snag as a “Books to Go.”

One of the other particularly handy features of “Books to Go” is that because you can’t place a hold on them, they are guaranteed to renew twice. With a two-week checkout period, that means you can keep this bestseller for up to six weeks, if you need to.

Library Hack: Get New Stuff Fast | Before you know it, you’ll be watching the latest movies, spinning the newest tunes, and reading your books with the ink still wet.

Recently, we added “Books to Go” for kids, as well, which has me really excited (since I love children’s books almost as much as “grown up” ones). Now you and your little ones will be able to get the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid or read The Giver even as it hits theaters.

Strategy #3: Go Digital

Library Hack: Get New Stuff Fast | Before you know it, you’ll be watching the latest movies, spinning the newest tunes, and reading your books with the ink still wet.

If you’re more about eBooks and digital audiobooks, you can take advantage of a similar feature in Overdrive. When you search in our library collection (within Overdrive) you can see items that we have pre-ordered (but haven’t been released yet). You can place a hold on these items and Overdrive will let you know when they are released and ready to check out.

A new Overdrive feature, automatic checkout, makes this even easier. Now, when you place a hold in Overdrive, you can ask that your item be checked out automatically when it becomes available. Now you’ll never miss a hold again!

Strategy #4: Suggest a Purchase

Library Hack: Get New Stuff Fast | Before you know it, you’ll be watching the latest movies, spinning the newest tunes, and reading your books with the ink still wet.

If you know of an item releasing soon that you think we should have in our system, you can Suggest an Item (each member can suggest up to 5 items that we don’t have in our system each month). If we choose to buy it, you’ll be first in line for it when it comes in.

You can also request that we purchase a digital item within Overdrive (when you search, just make sure that you have the box for “Additional Titles to Recommend” checked before you start your search (just click the little person with a plus sign to make a suggestion about a digital item). If we choose to buy the item, you’ll receive an email notification (and you’ll be first in line for it if you’ve requested to be when you suggest it).

I hope that these tips have convinced you that you can indeed get new stuff fast, at your library. Before you know it, you’ll be watching the latest movies, spinning the newest tunes, and reading your books with the ink still wet.

Cara Strickland

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