Once upon a time our library used to charge for reserving books. I can’t remember how much it cost. Around a dollar, I think. I can’t even remember when the library stopped charging. It’s a long time ago now.
What I do know is that the ability to reserve books at no cost has changed my reading habits and introduced me to a lot of authors I might otherwise have missed.
Before they changed the system I’d go to the library and pick out the books I wanted to read. I’d browse along the shelves and find books by authors I knew. I also picked up a few lucky-dip books where the cover or first page looked interesting.
Occasionally I’d search for a specific book. One that a friend had recommended, or that I was particularly looking forward to.
The books I missed, however, were the new releases that I had read about when newly published but had forgotten about by the time the book arrived in the library as it was usually months afterwards, and the books where I read a review that made me think, “Oh, I might like that,” but which didn’t have the personal recommendation.
I’m on the computer all the time. It doesn’t take much to log on to our local library. If I’m reading about a book I think I’ll like, I can go into the reservation system and order it. If it’s not in their catalogue and I really want to read it I can even recommend that the library purchase it.
Then, months after I’ve ordered it, an email arrives telling me that a book I had totally forgotten about is ready to collect.
I still browse at the library, but the no-charge reservations system has allowed me to read books that in the past I would have missed. In particular I read more new authors, and I have gained lots of new favourites out of it.