Ultimate List of Library Hacks

This week is National Library Week, and I want to help you make the most of your library.

Every library and library system is different, so the most important tip is the first one – get to know YOUR library, and see what they have to offer.

(photo credit: Sarah Ronk)

    The Basics

  1. Dig deep into your library’s website and see what’s there – not all library systems have the same resources, and specifics will vary depending on where you live. Look for website pages like “using your library” or “services” to get the details.
  2. Know your limits – for reserves, checkouts, ILL requests.
  3. Provide your email address when you sign up for your library card – most systems will use it to send email reminders about due dates.
  4. Sign up for the library newsletters – it’s one of the best ways to stay informed as to events and programs they’re offering. Author talks, movie nights, special displays, craft programs, and language lessons have all been offered at my local library recently.
  5. Got questions? Ask the librarians – they love helping. If you don’t have time to go into the library, see if they offer phone, text, or chat support as well.
  6. Requesting Titles and Putting Materials on Hold

  7. If you don’t see something you want – ask for it! Most libraries have ways for you to suggest titles for purchase. Bonus: often you’ll be placed at the front of the line to borrow items you’ve suggested if they decide to purchase them.
  8. Place items on hold so they’re available for easy pick-up. This is especially helpful if they’re popular items you’ll never see on the shelf, but it also makes things easier if you’ve got small children who make library visits more challenging.
  9. Suspend your holds if you know you won’t be able to pick them up (say, you’re going on vacation), or if you need to balance out your requests (say, if you’ve gone on a reserving binge and don’t want ALL THE BOOKS to arrive at once). You may have options of suspending holds for anywhere from 1 to 180 days, and should be able to remove the suspension at any time.
  10. Looking for a popular title? Check into alternative formats, such as electronic copies, audio books (downloadable and CD copies), or even large print.
  11. Digital Advantages

  12. Adjust your dates – you may be able to modify checkout times for electronic items from anywhere between 3 and 21 days
  13. Your reading list is bigger than your check-out limit? Create a wishlist (or two) and make it easy to remember what you want to borrow next. Depending on the system, you may be able to have separate wishlists for digital and physical books, and may even be able to have more than one wishlist saved by the library system.
  14. Look into all the digital options offered. Possibilities include Hoopla for TV, movies, documentaries, instructional videos, or music; Freegal for music or music videos, and Flipster or Zinio for magazines. That’s in addition to options for books and audiobooks!
  15. Use the Google Chrome extension to quickly search for a book at your library. While you browse Amazon, GoodReads, or other book-focused sites, it’ll tell you immediately if a book is available at your library.
  16. More Than Just Books

  17. Think beyond books – libraries may loan physical items such as tools, kitchen equipment, board games, puzzles, toys, even art.
  18. Researching something specialized? See what databases are offered, and know that additional options may be available to use from the library itself. If you’re into genealogy, it’s common that libraries offer Heritage Quest access from your home computer, but Ancestry’s database can only be used while in the library. Other databases may have similar restrictions due to licensing agreements.
  19. Libraries often offer free or discounted rates on meeting space. Sometimes they have spaces that can be used but not reserved in advance, and other times they may have rooms you can book ahead of time, depending on your needs and their policies. Be sure to read library policies to know what’s permitted in the space and what isn’t.
  20. Most public libraries offer WiFi for free, and many also have computers to use, as well as printing capabilities (for a nominal fee).
  21. Looking to learn something? See if your library offers Mango, Lynda, Gale, or Rosetta Stone. They may also have free or low-cost tutoring, as well as classes on various topics. Tech help and tinker stations are also common if you’re considering an e-reader but need some assistance.
  22. Still Need More?

  23. Take advantage of Inter Library Loan – if your library doesn’t have a particular book and you need that specific title, see if you can get it from another library via ILL. These titles are sometimes loaned with more restriction, such as a shorter loan period and no possibility of renewing the loan, so be aware of that before you request. Libraries often have limits on how many ILL requests you can place in a time period, such as one per month. There may be a small fee for them as well (usually it’s under $5, and meant to cover postage).
  24. Want to add to your own library collection? Check out the library book sales. You can get great deals on used books and support your library at the same time.
  25. Look into getting access to other libraries in your area. You may already be a member of a library consortium, or you may be able to purchase membership to a larger library (and it may be worth it to you if they have significantly better offerings). You may also have access to local college or university libraries and their more specialized collections.

Goodreads Hack: Creating a “Not Going to Read” Shelf

bookworm-hacks-not-interested-shelfYou do know about creating additional exclusive shelves on Goodreads, yes?

The exclusive shelves are the ones where a book can only be on one of them – the defaults are “Read” “Want to Read” and “Currently Reading.” I’ve since added three of my own – “Never Finished” “Paused” and “Not Interested.”

Why did I make a “Not Interested” shelf?

I debated this one a long time, as I was concerned that it could seem mean in a way: I am not going to read a lot of books, so why was it necessary to highlight certain titles that I’m not going to try?

What eventually swayed me to do it is that there are some books that I keep looking at, and then remembering “no, I already checked it out and passed on it.” I want to save my time and have it already in my Goodreads account as a “not for me.”

And that’s what this shelf is: a not for me shelf. If you see a favorite book of yours on the shelf, it’s not that I’m saying I think it’s a bad one. Simply, it’s not one I want to read. Perhaps it’s got some themes I don’t enjoy, or maybe I’ve read too many that are similar and don’t want another one.

It’s already been handy, and I’m wishing I hadn’t waited so long to create it.

Have you added any extra exclusive shelves to your Goodreads account?

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Binge Reading: All the Series Fiction

While I was sick and then slowly recovering over the past two weeks, I haven’t been doing much in the way of blogging (obviously), but barring the very worst days of sickness, I have been reading.

the-brutal-tellingAnd reading, and reading. I’ve been on a series fiction binge and loving it.

I’ve read #5 in the Chief Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny (The Brutal Telling), #3 and #4 in the Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch (Whispers Underground and Broken Homes), #2 and #3 in the Enola Holmes series by Nancy Springer (The Case of the Left-Handed Lady and The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets) , #1 and #2 in the Lady Darby series by Anna Lee Huber (The Anatomist’s Wife and Mortal Arts).

a-grave-matterSo as to be not 100% series fiction I also read Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, Last of the Breed by Louis L’Amour, and Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson.

Waiting for me on my Kindle are the next in the Gamache, Grant, and Darby series. Plus I really should get moving on my book club books for next month. The Hobbit is waiting for me. 😉

And all the while I’m trying desperately to keep myself from reading #3 in the Cormoran Strike series, because there’s still no publication date listed for #4.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Goodreads Hacks: Creating a “Paused” Shelf

Goodreads imageOne of my most recent updates to my Goodreads account is the addition of an exclusive “paused” shelf. I use it for books that I had been reading, but for whatever reason I’m not continuing ot read at this time. Yet, I didn’t want to add them to my “did not finish” shelf, because I do think I’ll finish them someday.

While it’s still a fairly new addition to my shelves, so far I’m *loving* it. It makes it easy for me to clear out my “currently reading” shelf, and yet not lose those books that I hadn’t finished.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Goodreads Hacks: Using a Secret Group

Goodreads imageOne of the things I have wished Goodreads offers is a way to make a shelf of books private. Not my entire profile, but just some titles, for when I’m working on projects.

Why yes, this is especially on my mind right now because of planning for book club next year. I want the choices to be a surprise, so I can’t exactly make a shelf and call it “2017 book club possibilities” and keep the suspense.

Enter a secret group. From my computer (I can’t get it to work from the app, unfortunately), I created a new group with only me as a member. Then I pulled in all the titles I’m considering. And, while it doesn’t matter quite as much with this year (I’m in the final stages of selecting), I’m already making plans to use it for next year: I can add titles throughout the year and have them ready to consider next fall when I begin finalizing plans for 2018.

The only downside that I have found with this is that it doesn’t work on the app. I can’t create the groups on the app, and I can’t see the bookshelves I’ve filled via the app. So, it’s not a perfect solution, but it’s better than nothing.

If you’ve figured out a better workaround to the lack of private shelf options in Goodreads (besides a piece of paper kept offline), please let me know!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Two years ago: Homeschooling Update: Teaching Reading with All About Reading
Three years ago: Book Review: The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
Four years ago: Review: Blackout / All Clear by Connie Willis

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

On Rereading Books: Still Life

Still LifeYears ago I read Louise Penny’s novel, Still Life. It introduced a new mystery series set in Canada.

And I was thoroughly unimpressed with it, and proceeded to ignore future books in the series as they were released.

Except. Friends whose reading tastes I trust kept saying good things about her books (especially on audio). They said that the first wasn’t her best, but that the series improves.

There’s so many things to read, it’s hard to justify rereading a book I didn’t like, in the hopes of it turning into a series I like, but I do trust my reading friends.

Last week I reread Still Life, with the plan being just to get it read to reintroduce myself to the characters, with the expectation of continuing on with the series.

And I don’t know if it was the (very) low expectations I had, or if it was a different stage of reading life, but I really enjoyed it. Now I’m left wondering why I thought so poorly of the book the first time through. This is when it would be helpful if I’d been blogging about my reads all along; all I have is that star rating, with no comments. Was it a mistake – had I meant to type 3 stars and my finger slipped? Was I in a particularly cranky mood when I read it and nothing would have pleased me? It’s a mystery, one that no detective will solve for me.

On the bright side of things, it means I have the entire Penny series to look forward to reading, thank you very much Jessica and Sarah and Janet and Anne.

On the not-so-bright side, what other books or series have I potentially been ruling out because of a bad first experience, when if I tried them again I might think quite differently about them?

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul in these remote woods, and is soon certain that Jane Neal died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter. Still Life introduces not only an engaging series hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces – and this series – with integrity and quiet courage, but also a winning and talented new writer of traditional mysteries in the person of Louise Penny.

Book Details

Title: Still Life
Author: Louise Penny
Category: Fiction / Mystery
My Rating: 3 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Three years ago: Book Review: Poison

Summer Reading and Plans

Blogging has been sparse lately – I’ve had good plans (and I have posts to write) but time and energy have been lacking. Last week I was on vacation (yay!) and I took my laptop with the idea that I’d get caught up on posts there. Hah! I had some time while the baby napped, and the big kids were with their grandparents, but I was so exhausted that I didn’t do anything on the computer at all. The downside is I didn’t get caught up or even ahead on posting, but the plus is that I did recharge. 🙂

Saving CeeCee HoneycuttI also did a fair amount of reading – I finished As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, Big Little Lies, and Saving CeeCee Honeycutt. I almost finished listening to Harry Potter #1, and made progress in You Are Not So Smart and Grace at Bender Springs. And of course I read each of the books I brought for my youngest about 100 times, because how can I resist her when she repeats “read?” “story?” “book?”

While I like going on vacation before the summer really starts – it wasn’t as hot, and it was much less crowded – now vacation is over and we’re still not finished with school, so it’s back to the regular routine. In many ways it would have felt more satisfying to finish the school year and then travel.

Ramona and Her FatherWe’ve only got five days left though, so G should wrap up everything this week. I’m still debating having him do some math during the summer, but I am definitely going to require him to do some reading every day. And of course I’m going to continue to read aloud to all of the kids throughout the summer. First on the agenda is Ramona and Her Father. G has loved the Ramona series, so usually as soon as we finish one we’ve moved into the next one. This summer I’m also looking at reading him some Astrid Lindgren, and Roald Dahl, and additional titles to be determined later. 🙂

Climbing the Mango TreesI’m also thinking about making myself a summer reading list. I’ve never done that before (at least since high school I haven’t) so I’m not sure why I’m considering it this year – maybe as a way of prioritizing my reading, since I am reading so much less lately? Book club titles would have to go on the list first, so that will be The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (as a readaloud to the big kids), Better Than Before (a reread), The Cuckoo’s Calling, Climbing the Mango Trees, The Slightly True Story of Cedar B. Hartley, and Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence. That takes me through August for all three of my bookclubs (I’ve already read the other three titles those clubs will be reading over the summer).

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'dBeyond that, I’m not sure what I’ll end up prioritizing. I do want to read Stars Above, and I just got it from the library again after having to return it unread earlier this year. I’ve got lots of nonfiction on my TBR list, but I haven’t been in that much of a nonfiction reading mood. I’m looking forward to the latest Flavia de Luce mystery (Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d), but that’s not scheduled until September. September is also when Shauna Niequist’s new book Present Over Perfect is releasing, so that should be a nice month for new books!

Give Your Child the WorldThinking of new releases also reminds me that Jamie Martin’s book Give Your Children the World comes out next month! I preordered it ages ago, and it seemed like forever until it would be published. Now it’s only two more weeks, and I can’t wait to see it. I am such a sucker for book lists, and the sneak peek I saw of this one makes me think it’ll be fantastic. I’ve already got my daughter’s school books planned for her Kindergarten year, but I may be making some changes after flipping through this title.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

How to tell if you have a first edition copy of a book.

The Deliberate Reader 2015 Reader SurveyOne of the questions I received in my reader survey last year was
How to tell if I have a first edition copy of a book

First EditionThis can be really easy (sometimes) or really complicated (sometimes). It’s way beyond my expertise to go into all of the variations and possibilities, but here are some pointers:

First, be aware that sometimes people mean one thing when they say first edition (as in, the valuable copy of a book), but what they really mean is first printing. Any printing that is of the original edition is “first edition.”

Since I suspect what most people really mean when they wonder about a “first edition” is if they have the possibly valuable first printing, we’ll go forward with how to identify that.

You first want to look on the copyright page at the front of the book. On books published after World War II, you’ll see a set of numbers. The LOWEST number is the key one. If it’s a “1”, then you probably have a first printing.

Guernsey printing info

Definitely NOT a first edition, let alone a first printing. See that 12 that’s the lowest number?

first edition
But this one is a first printing. Note how numbers can sometimes count up and sometimes count down – the key is the lowest number of the string, not whether it’s first or last. But don’t get too excited for me about owning a First. It still isn’t a valuable book – all firsts are not created equal!

Why do I say you probably have a First? Because you also get into which printing is the “First” first printing – as in, the one that beat all the others. You can have a first US printing, and a first UK printing, and a first Canadian printing, but only the one that came to market before the others is the true First (very important capital “F” there), and generally the true First is the one that can be valuable.

For books published pre-World War II it gets more complicated, and that’s where I’m not going to try to get into all of the possibilities. However, here are some websites that go into more detail, and give specifics on how to tell which is the first edition by various presses:

AbeBooks – includes a video if you’d rather see it than read about it

Quill & Brush – with a lengthy list of publishers

Book Libris – provides some additional suggested resources for how to determine first edition status

Travelin Librarian – a guide to editions and printings

One other thing to note: translations can have their own copyright information, but the first printing of a translation is unlikely to be a valuable book. I’d say it’s never going to be a valuable book but I suppose there are some extra circumstances that might allow it to happen, so I’ll be safe and say “highly unlikely”.

Translation copyright

Finally, if you really want to get into book collecting, get a reference guide and read it – it’s much more involved than the surface glance I’ve given it here. Modern Book Collecting or Book Finds are good places to start if you’re a beginner, or just see what your library has on the topic.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Three years ago: Friday Link Love, Writing Edition

Reading Your Bookish Kryptonite

Last week I shared about the words and phrases that are my book description kryptonite: the ones that make me immediately put a book aside as not for me.
bookish kryptonite
(I also forgot a few, and was reminded of them in the comments. A second post about additional ones may be forthcoming, especially focused on cover kryptonite.)

But what about when you “have” to read a book that hits one of those otherwise red flags?

This month’s selection for my in-person book club is The Lake House by Kate Morton. I love Kate Morton’s books. I wanted to dive into this book.

Except: the description mentions a baby who has disappeared. Children being harmed is #1 on my “don’t read this” list. I put off reading the book for months, in part because I was dreading the read.

And then I finally picked the book up, faced my fears, and dove in.

Hours later, and waaaaaay past my bedtime, I closed the book. Yes, the central mystery of the book is one that I generally won’t read, but I am *so* glad I trusted Morton to not be too graphic.

While I’m not going to say that I’m going to start reading all of those books I don’t read, I am glad that I didn’t stick to my list without budging. I’d have missed out on a great book.

Now I’m wondering what other books I really should try, even if they are ones I’d usually ignore. 🙂

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: 5 Translated Novels I Want To Read, and 5 More I’m Considering

Memorable Gifts in Literature

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas – I’ll be back next week. Until then, enjoy this look at memorable gifts in literature.

Memorable Gifts from Literature

Infographic was created by Pack & Send, but I have no affiliation with them. I just liked the infographic, and they gave me permission to post it. Thanks Pack & Send!