Guys? I miss my library. The San Antonio Public Library system was awesome. You could order books from anywhere in the library system and have them transferred to your branch, and you could return them to any branch. Once a book was in transit, it only took a couple days to arrive. The branches all held awesome events, book clubs, book sales, and more. They based their ordering on the estimated popularity of books, and almost always, they ordered books well before they were scheduled for release. Additionally, they use the Wowbrary system, which is an RSS feed of all the books ordered that week in multiple categories. This allowed me to see immediately when a book I was waiting for entered the system, and I could immediately put it on hold (before the hold list went up to several hundred!).
Before the SAPL, I’d never really used the library much. When we lived in rural southwestern Wisconsin, I never bothered. I knew it would be difficult to find anything. I didn’t even have a library card then. Only after we moved to San Antonio in late 2005 did I become a library convert and zealot. In the year we lived in Boston, I wasn’t a huge fan of the library system, but they did have a lot of availability, so I didn’t have too many complaints. (Mostly that the hold system was weighted based on what library you belonged to, so you could never tell how long it would take to get a book or what number you were in line.) I was definitely relieved to come back to SAPL, and now…
Well. Small town libraries are very different. I’m happy that there’s a network of several dozen libraries in this part of Wisconsin that we can order holds from, and that the hold line isn’t weighted like in Boston. On the other hand, all the small-town libraries have some distinct disadvantages. Most the time, when I put a book on hold and it’s finally in transit, it takes several weeks to arrive. Then there’s the the hold lists themselves. Because all these libraries are individual instead of one library with multiple branches, they each order their own books. They order small batches of books, and so the demand for some books is much, much greater than the supply. This is true of physical and digital books. For example, I recently saw Me Before You and decided to try the audiobook. The physical copy was too damaged to use – another problem I’ve had with every single audiobook I’ve checked out here – so I put the electronic copy on hold. I’m somewhere in the high 300s of that list, because there are less than ten copies belonging to the several-dozen libraries. At SAPL? I’m second on the hold list there. (Thank goodness my library card is still valid for e-copies there!)
I remember why I never bothered with the library before SAPL. This makes me so sad, because I don’t like to buy books before trying them from the library first. Borrowing is an integral part of my reading. There’s a reason I’ve been reviewing mostly audiobooks (via Audible) since August. Sigh.
PS – No Wowbrary here either. Needless to say, I kept my SAPL feeds going. Wowbrary is one of my primary sources of discovering new books to try!