It seemed like a good idea at the time.
“I order lots of books from the library. New books that I don’t expect to see on the shelves. Old books tucked away in reserve stock. Books that I’d be inclined to buy, but I check the library for first …
None of those are bad things, but often I find I don’t have space on my card when a stack of books arrive at the same time, or that I don’t have space left on my ticket for anything I might spot on the shelves. Which is a very bad thing. Because often the best books are the ones you haven’t heard about, that you just spot, and you can tell other people about.
And so this year I am going to restrict my library reservations. I couldn’t give up completely – I wouldn’t even try – but I am allowing myself just twenty-four for the year. My thinking is that way I can order one shiny new book and one lost gem a month, and anything else can go on my ‘one day list’ – until a copy turns up, until I have a spot to fill, or until I change my mind.”
But it was never going to work.
It did for a while, but then I read The Love Charm of Bombs and I was inspired to to seek out the works of the authors celebrated in its pages: Elizabeth Bowen, Graham Greene, Rose Macaulay, Henry Green, Hilde Spiel.
I have some of their books on my shelves, but many that I don’t are tucked away in reserve library stock. And it made sense to order the library books, that may not be there forever, and come back to my own books later.
We Write as Women set me off looking for even more old books.
Darlene praised for Nevil Shute, encouraging me to search the library catalogue again. Lots of books in reserve stock!
Hayley made me realise that Compton Mackenzie was a far more interesting author than I’d thought. And yes, he’s well represented in reserve stock too.
I could go on, but I’m sure you’ve got the idea by now.
And, of course, there are new books that catch my eye. When there’s a book I really want to read, when I can see there are copies just sitting on library shelves further up the country, goes it not make sense to place an order?
I don’t order everything straight away. I use my library’s list facility and I keep three lists – ‘soon’, ‘some day’, and ‘please put it into stock’ – so that I can keep my library pile to a manageable size. I’m not looking at numbers any more, but I’m going to make sure I don’t put myself in a position where I have more books to pick up than I can fit on my ticket.
I realised that the project had to be overhauled when I found myself thinking that I’d used up my quota of reservations so I’d have to buy the book instead. I do buy books, of course I do, but I buy the books I can’t get from the library and the books I’m quite sure I will want to keep.
So numbers and quotas are out, but here’s the bit of the project I’m going to keep:
“And, because I want to support the library, I am going to shout about my reservations.
Look at this lovely new book I got from the library!
Look at this wonderful old book the library hung on to!
Look at this book I’d forgotten all about, that isn’t in the shops any more, but the library had!”
I’ll write posts about the books I’ve ordered, the books I’ve added to my lists, how I’ve found them every so often. No fixed schedules – I have enough of that in my day job – but semi regular posts when I have enough books I want to write about.
The Library Reservations Project is Dead … Long Live the Library Reservations Project …