What’s Your Library Strategy?

I frequent libraries quite often. Whenever my class is using the library computer room at school, of course I have to have a browse for books. My local library is a half-hour walk away, so I don’t go AS often, but maybe every few weeks or so. And I started thinking there might be different types of STRATEGIES for going to a library. I have categorised them as follows.

Looking for new books

There’s usually a “new books” stand at many libraries. Or in my experience, anyway. This strategy is quite brief – you look at the new books, see if there’s one you like. If so, you borrow it. If not, you leave. Either way, you’ve pretty exhausted the existing books and would like some shiny new ones.

Armed with a list of titles/authors

This one’s often my strategy. From OzYAChats or PTA Chats on Twitter, recommendations, reviews I’ve seen, books I personally have wanted to read…I make a list of authors or titles I want to look at, and I go through the list to see which ones the library has. Of course, the problem with this strategy is that the list is often…long.

I make new lists all the time, though. There are always more recommendations for me to check out 🙂


Checking for that ONE BOOK and WHY hasn’t it been returned yet?

At some libraries you could just reserve it, but that costs money at my local library. Sometimes I’ll stalk the shelves looking for that one book that I SWEAR I saw and then someone nabbed it right under my nose. Okay, it doesn’t happen that often to me, since I’m not really a SERIES person, and the books I want to read aren’t as popular as some others, but I know people who do this.

Actually, it has happened to me once. I saw Cress on the new books stand and practically sprinted to get it.

(Why yes I have used this gif before, don’t judge me…it’s relevant)

Aimlessly browsing

Basically, you have no idea what you’re looking for, but you know once you SEE something you like, you’ll know. So you wander up and down the aisles hoping something will jump out at you and be awesome. But let’s face it – you really are clueless about what you’re looking for.


Asking for recommendations

Okay, so a lot of us readers are introverts, so it can be difficult to ask a librarian for advice of what to read. And personally…I never have. HOWEVER, I have (on occasion) asked for recommendations from my school teachers, since I know who they are. I mean, most of the books I look for are recommendations from people on the internet, but asking a librarian can – I imagine – be helpful.

reservoir dogs animated GIF

(Kitty says “excuse me? Please listen? And that’s exactly how you should ask a librarian for a good book)


Working through the alphabet

I have no idea if anyone actually does this or not. I kind of just made it up. I suppose if you were really methodical, you could maybe start from A and make your way to Z.


Not that I ever would, but I don’t know, that might be your strategy!

Out of these, I’m definitely a list-maker and an aimless browser, depending what kind of day it is (and if I’ve forgotten my list).


So tell me, everyone – what’s your library strategy? Any I’ve missed out on?

42 thoughts on “What’s Your Library Strategy?

  1. This post is. AWESOME. You seriously are the best. JUST SAYIN’. Okay now…back to stragegies. My library doesn’t make you pay for YA reserves, but it does make you pay for adult ones. Aaaand, they love to shelve YA books as adult. Gah. It drives me a little bonkers. So I skip reading a lot of books I really really want to because at $2 a book, gosh, I either reserve 5 books or buy one to keep forever. Hmph. ANYWAY. I’m more of a recommendation person. I’ll reserve books and then they’ll all come in at once. -_- And then I return half of them unread. But I try, I do try. I occasionally browse. I’ve seen books I wanted to read but never checked the library so just spontaneously borrowed them just then. HUZZAH. Books. But the A-Z version sounds very intense.

    • Oh, YOU. *giggles and blushes* Shelving YA books as adult seems silly. Although maybe they’re doing that at my library and I have no idea D: MAYBE I’VE BEEN MISSING OUT ON MORE AWESOME BOOKS. I return things unread, sometimes, as well. What with borrowing from two different libraries it can get somewhat out of hand, considering I have review copies and books to read for CLASS as well. The A-Z version is probably ridiculous. Like, I just made it up. But there might be one crazy person out there who does it…

  2. When I’m at the library, I typically will just request the books I really want so they pull them from the shelves for me and keep them at the front desk. After getting those, I just check out the new books and leave. I really wish I had more time to just browse the library though.

    • That’s a good idea. Like you own little black market thing 🙂 I wish I had more time to browse my school library, but sometimes I feel embarrassed by the books I’m borrowing – some of my teachers probably think they’re not literary enough.

  3. I usually go into the library with one or two books in mind, and leave with twenty. xD My book pick-up strategy is super shallow. I browse the spines, looking for a hot one, then pull it off the shelf to read the blurb. If I like it, I’ll add it to my stack, if not, I’ll put it back and look for another hot spine. I know, it’s cruel to the ugly spines. . . .

    • HAHA. So true! I’m like, ‘self-restraint Emily. Self-restraint.’ You make a good point about pretty book spines – if I don’t have my list with me I’ll look for those as well! Sorry, ugly spined books (although if someone recommends it I’ll pick it up anyway).

  4. All of the strategies in this post are so relatable. When I was little, I would either bolt to the sections with The Little House on the Prairie or Nancy Drew books or I would aimlessly browse the shelves. Now I usually come to the library with a very long list of books in hand and I always check out the “new books” shelves. I can’t believe you have to pay to reserve books at your library! That is horrible! That is a pure crime to bookworms! I rely on reserving books all the time!

    • Oooh, I really like the Nancy Drew books! Although Trixie Beldens are so much better, just saying 🙂 I do pretty much the same as you with the new books browsing and long list. Oh yes, how silly is it that I have to pay to reserve books? If I reserved enough books I’d spend enough money to actually BUY one!

  5. Fantastic, fantastic post, Emily! I went through a period of not using the library very often because I’d literally read everything my library stocked that I was interested in. This was obviously before I discovered book blogs and booktube. After starting to use the library again last year, I’ve pretty much just reserved any book I want, and then I go and pick it up when it’s available. Fortunately for me, this doesn’t cost me any money (unless it’s an inter-library loan, and even then, some other libraries don’t charge), at either of my local libraries. Occasionally, I will just go to the library and browse through their shelves and pick up anything that catches my eye.

    • Oh wow, it was the same with me! Before I started book blogging, I thought I’d read all the books I’d wanted to 🙂 TWO local libraries, though? That’s awesome. I wish I had two. Although I’m lucky in that my school library has awesome books.

  6. Hey Emily! Heehee, it’s nice to meet a fellow Emily ^^
    I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO STRATEGY WHEN I GO TO THE LIBRARY D: Okay, not true, but it’s nuts because I work my way through from A-Z, but then I have absolutely no self-control so I end up like piling up 20 books and then setting them down and feeling miserable because I can only get 10 >< 10 isn't too little, but the temptation is just insane!! D: I have no guts to go up to a librarian either to ask for recommendations because I'll probably get a "duh" look :\
    Heehee fantastic post, Emily! 🙂 Nice to meet you! 😀

    • Yay, another Emily! *high fives you*
      That’s one I should have added to the list – “ABSOLUTELY NO STRATEGY.” Hahaha. Oh, so you do like a process of elimination? The Hunger Games for books. It’s now down to the final fifteen…

      Haha, I feel the same about asking librarians. I know they don’t bite but I’d be way too shy.

  7. Usually I order books from my library that I’m interested in, but occasionally I’ll go to the YA section to browse… however, this method usually leaves me returning home with twenty books I’m stressing about reading before the due date, haha!

  8. I’m sort of a combination of these when it comes to the library.
    Sometimes, if I’m up to a certain book in a series, I’ll look it up online (because my library is awesome in that it does ebooks/audiobooks online and it has its ‘in library’ catalogue online, where you can see which branch the book is in, or when it’s due to be returned), and then I’ll go to the branch listed (or cry because it’s three weeks overdue and they still haven’t returned it).
    But mostly, I start at the A’s, and I scan the shelves looking for books on my goodreads to-read shelf. This often results in me borrowing out 10 books at a time, but it’s all good.
    On very rare occasions I actually take a list, but I have a really good memory when it comes to books, so I mostly don’t need one.

    • Ooooh oooh my library has one of those too! What it means, though, is that I get really excited when I see it’s in stock…only to find out it’s in another branch. None of the awesome ones are in mine! I too look for books that are on my Goodreads TBR – it’s a fun way to do it. Although I usually only borrow 3 or 4.

      Curse you and your awesome memory. That would come in very handy for me 🙂

  9. Because I spend an insane amount of time on Goodreads and publisher’s websites, all I pretty much do is stroll through the isles of books, looking for familiar covers/titles/authors. So it’s a pretty simple technique, but judging from the amount of books I’ve borrowed from the library before, I’d say it works well. 😉 The first thing I do, though, before looking through the A — Z shelves, is glance over at the New Books section. There’s usually something I want there. 🙂

    • SO DO I. That works pretty well, actually – there’s usually at least a few books that I’ve seen from various blogs/Goodreads/wherever. The new books stand at my school library is EXCELLENT, but at my local library, the books aren’t actually…new. So I don’t use those as much!

  10. These days I know that when I go into a library I’m going to be tempted to just pick of a ton of random books that I think look good, and not even get close to reading them all. So, I *try* to make lists and keep note of the ones that I REALLY want to read which I know are available. Otherwise, I’ll spend ages looking through the endless possibilities and see what jumps out and says BORROW ME! 🙂

    • Oh, I used to do that! The hype monster got me really badly, and I wasn’t enjoying the books, so I limited myself after that. Which worked well. But I can easily spend half an hour just browsing for books and narrowing down the list of which ones I want to borrow 🙂

  11. I used to sort of aimlessly browse the YA section, but now I work at my local library so I know what we have and where everything is.

  12. Oh, how I wish I had any strategies to give! But apart from my school library (which is more full of journals and academic books than anything else haha), libraries here in the Philippines are not that great and visited. I doubt they even have anything for the kind of books I read (Adult fiction/YA fiction), and they are super not funded enough. Reading here is more better-suited to the Middle Classes upwards because they’re the only ones who can afford it, as majority who are in the “masses” are unfortunately not encouraged enough to read 😦 Which is so sad. One of my goals is to build my own library and encourage the people here to learn how to read and to read consistently. It would be a dream come true for me!

    Faye at The Social Potato

    • Aww, it’s a shame you don’t have too many libraries over there 😦 even though Australia isn’t exactly a very LITERARY country, we do still have lots of libraries. People use them for studying more than reading, though, I think 😛 Oh my gosh, though, that’s such a great dream to have! I hope you get a chance to do that someday.

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  14. Oh man, I tried to read this yesterday and it wouldn’t load, but finally it does! Anyway, I so do the list thing, I make like a fresh list every 2 weeks because there’s book I need to remember. Book Title, where I can find it, author surname, list is split into what library and there’s always a separate part for books to order in, because sometimes one libraries collection isn’t enough.. I also wander aimlessly through the aisles, and sometimes there’s a surprising one that I never expected, or one I’ve seen somebody review and I think; maybeeeee, but then never pick it up, telling myself I will one day! One trick I have is see what is always being taken out, keep up with them, I can do that online, but if a book is always out at one library, it’s a good sign, so I do my best to get it. I’d also say books that are in the wrong place are avoidable, if they’ve been picked up and put back, that’s a sign too, but this is a good post! 😀

    • Silly WordPress! Oh yes, I make new lists too – either because I’ve exhausted the old one or I’ve lost it (this happens more often than you would expect). Wow, that trick about seeing which books are borrowed often is so good! Sometimes at my school library I’ll rummage through the trolley of books that have to be returned to the shelves – that’s pretty good 🙂

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  17. I always look through my school library because they get all the new books from Text Publishing and Allen & Unwin so the titles are usually familiar to me after all the Aussies review them! So my strategy is definitely looking at the new books! When I go to my local library, I’m that person who aimlessly browses the shelves. They NEVER get anything new so I just have to see what gems I find. :3

  18. haha I do the A to Z thing sometimes, if I have enough time. But only for the YA/teen section and the SFF section, because who the heck could look through the ENTIRE library from A to Z?!
    Mostly though, I reserve books at my library (and because SA has a unified state library system, I can borrow books from any library in SA- so that’s a crapload of books to choose from) and when I go in to collect my books, I’ll have a brief look at the YA/teen section and the SFF section and then skedaddle 🙂

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  20. Luckily for me, requesting books doesn’t cost anything at my library! So I really don’t spend any time browsing at all, especially since I have a reading schedule that I’ve already planned out and try to stick to. Mostly I just request the books I need online, and then go in to pick them up once they’re ready!

  21. This post makes me really nostalgic about my days of library browsing. Before blogging, and Goodreads – browsing the library was the only way I found out about books. Shocking, I know.

    And, back in the day, I was an alphabet browser (YES, I AM THAT PERSON). I would always start at A and work my way down to Z and at the end, I’d have about 30 library books that I wanted. I would then rent all of these, only to have to return half of them the next time I went to the library, haha.

    Aw, man, I haven’t done that in the longest time. I really do miss it.

    Now, the only reason I use the library is for manga and for books I want to read but know I don’t want to own. Maybe when I finally have some free non-uni time on my hands, I will go back to my old ways!

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