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November 3rd, 2005

Library Holds

Here at the Ping, we’re big proponents of libraries. They’re just great. We love them. So when I last moved, I naturally put “Get a library card” near the top of my to-do list. And then I did.

I was recommended a book by a friend recently, so I thought, “I’ll just log on to the library’s website and put it on hold!” Simple, right? Well… no. Holds at my library cost 50 cents. That’s right: it costs money to hold something.

I’m sure the reasons behind this are valid. They want to discourage rampant holds, and ensure people are serious about their books. While 50 cents isn’t a lot of money, it still kind of bugs me; the last libraries I’ve dealt with had no charge for holds and everything seemed fine there. What’s the deal?

I think a better, too-high-tech-for-my-medium-tech-library answer is this. Charge the 50 cents (via PayPal) but then refund it when the book is picked up. Just like a bottle deposit. Now you can really discourage those who are just messing with the hold system (you know it’s those crazy kids) and get people to use it more.

Posted in Everyday Life

FROM: Joseph
DATE: Thursday November 3, 2005 -- 10:26:17 am
They can't refund your entire fifty cents if they use Paypal to collect it, since Paypal probably charges ten per cent or so, so the library probably just decided to bag the refund idea.

FROM: Paul
DATE: Thursday November 3, 2005 -- 11:10:11 am
Yeah... I guess this is in a perfect world where PayPal gives libraries a sweet deal, too.

DATE: Thursday November 3, 2005 -- 12:43:31 pm
They should integrate Ebay and make you bid on the hold. Those that really want the book will pay the most to be on top of the list. The library makes money and is hopefully more self sufficeint.

FROM: Sammy Reed
DATE: Thursday November 3, 2005 -- 5:33:31 pm
They're starting to make you pay for services at the library now?

I wonder if this could be the start of some "book DRM" thing going on?

FROM: Merle [E-Mail]
DATE: Friday November 4, 2005 -- 11:34:30 pm
In Oakland CA they charge $.5, but only after 20 holds. The first 20 are free.

Inter-library loans are also $.5.

It's not all that unreasonable. But. Charging for initial holds (the only way to get popular books or books from branch libraries) is a bit steep of a price. I would have missed out on several good books (and several not-so-good) had I had to pay for each hold.

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