Sunday Coffee – Small Town Library

img_6827Guys? 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!

About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
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12 Responses to Sunday Coffee – Small Town Library

  1. Karen K. says:

    I miss SAPL too (and I’m still using their e-books also!). The USAFE system isn’t too bad, but the selection is limited, and some books take MONTHS to arrive after they’re in transit, depending on which base they’re coming from. If they don’t have enough books to fill up a box, they just wait, I think. And some bases won’t share their items at all. They do have ILL from the States but you’d better not be in a hurry for anything. I am hoping this will force me to read more of the books from my own shelves!

    Does your library have any book groups or other events? If nothing else, you might be able to meet people that way. (It’s how I met YOU, after all!)


    • Amanda says:

      Our selection ends up really limited here too. 😦 There’s a book club at the local library but so far nothing they’ve read has been of any interest to me. Maybe eventually I’ll go, but I’m having a hard enough time reading things I’m interested in these days that to read books I don’t actually WANT to read seems a waste of time. I think I’m going to have to get used to ebooks from SAPL!


  2. Kailana says:

    My library here is so out of the way, that I never use it. My old one I could walk to. My goal for 2017 is to reconnect with the library, though!


  3. Kristen M. says:

    I’m part of a great county-wide system right now that sounds pretty similar to your SA one as far as speed and holds and such. I never thought much about what it would mean to leave the system and go to a smaller one or individual city library. I’m sorry that you’ve lost such a great resource for books.


  4. Michelle says:

    I think that is one reason why I just never visit my library. They either do not have enough copies of what I want to read or nothing I want to read in general. I don’t have the patience for the long hold lists either. I gave up on audiobooks from there a long time ago. To me, it is easier sticking with the books I have waiting for me. I do use the library for older books I have been meaning to read. That is probably the only category of books for which I find the library useful.


    • Amanda says:

      Correct me if I’m wrong – aren’t you in Madison? Do they not have a decent library system there?

      My problem is that I have NO books waiting for me to read! I’ve been so good about my TBR since 2011 that I rarely have anything even on my virtual TBR waiting, and I have no unread books on my shelves. I no longer buy things I haven’t read except by a handful of authors. I’m totally going to have to rethink the way I’m doing things here…


  5. autumngrace4 says:

    Keep trying! I work at a small town library. It’s a lot easier to work with than the bigger libraries. However, bigger libraries sometimes do have more of a variety!


    • Amanda says:

      SAPL was thankfully also super easy to work with. I think we just had a really good system there, because I’ve experienced systems in other big areas (like in Boston) and that WAS more difficult. It was just a really good situation there.


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