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I'm going to put off the post I had planned to write this evening, with one simple (apparently in our family, not-so-simple) question:

What is your system for staying on top of (and not losing!) checked-out library materials?

Because seriously, I'm ready to put a ban on all library borrowing around here. If we don't get a system that works in place soon, they'll be dedicating a reading room in our honor.

this isn't working

I tried to create a little central gathering place for all the library materials to live–this nice little basket in the front hall. But darn if my kids don't want to read the library books! And carry them to secret nooks and crannies around the house; leaving my sweet little basket completely empty about two days after our library trip. Today I walked passed it, saw it empty, and tossed some mail in there, just so it wasn't so bare.

My no-nonsense husband says, "Well, they're in the house somewhere." True. I know they're not in the garden shed. I know they're not in the chicken coop. I know they're not on the front porch. They could be in the car. But obviously there is some black hole, perhaps under the girls' beds, that is swallowing up library books, and has a particular hunger for movies about baby deer
and soccer tips from the 80s.

I'm going to put off the post I had planned to write this evening, with one simple (apparently in our family, not-so-simple) question:

What is your system for staying on top of (and not losing!) checked-out library materials?

Because seriously, I'm ready to put a ban on all library borrowing around here. If we don't get a system that works in place soon, they'll be dedicating a reading room in our honor.

this isn't working

I tried to create a little central gathering place for all the library materials to live–this nice little basket in the front hall. But darn if my kids don't want to read the library books! And carry them to secret nooks and crannies around the house; leaving my sweet little basket completely empty about two days after our library trip. Today I walked passed it, saw it empty, and tossed some mail in there, just so it wasn't so bare.

My no-nonsense husband says, "Well, they're in the house somewhere." True. I know they're not in the garden shed. I know they're not in the chicken coop. I know they're not on the front porch. They could be in the car. But obviously there is some black hole, perhaps under the girls' beds, that is swallowing up library books, and has a particular hunger for movies about baby deer
and soccer tips from the 80s.

48 comments on “one question”

  1. Sorry, we don’t have a library, nothing to add there, except that your pale blue front door is beautiful!!!(Our problem is more like how to stay on top of our own books – they never get returned! – and still be able to walk around in our house)

  2. Our system is pretty crude. When we go, I let the kids check out what they want (we usually come home to 10-12 books and a DVD or so), then we keep them until I get an email alert (which I set up on my library website account) that lets me know what’s due soon (gives a list). Its the only way I’ve kept up. We got special boxes for each of the kid’s rooms, but that’s a loose system.

  3. i limit the check outs. two each and that is it. i know, mean mom. but i really can’t stay on top of my own stuff let alone theirs. bonus, they read at almost the same level so lots of times both read all four books. another bonus is that the library is walkable from the house on nice days and an extra minute in the car from school so we are able to take frequent trips. they aren’t allowed to check anything out unless the turn something in. they have a similar system at school and it seems to work well.2.5 days and counting!!!!!

  4. I let my kids check out as many books as they want. In fact, right now I think we are near the limit of 75 books checked out! Yikes! We have a library basket, too. Whenever I see library books laying about not being read (at that current moment), they go back to the basket. I am on the library website AT LEAST twice a week checking our account to see what is coming due. If I know where it is, I set it in our library bag and hide it in our entryway closet so those books won’t “disappear” before our next library visit. If I don’t know where the book is I try to renew it so I have a little extra time to look for it. If I can’t renew it, then I go into the crazy panic! Every couple of months, I try to turn ALL books in so that I don’t have any checked out and they are all accounted for. In the last three years we have only had to pay for one lost book and less than 2 dollars in late fees. Not the best systems… BUT we aren’t buying books and my kids are reading a ton! Good luck!

  5. LOL, this is a very familiar problem! I tried using a lidded box, and it worked for a week, until it began to fall apart. Then, I moved on to a basket in a corner of the living room, and the books would always find a way to flop out onto the floor and scatter themselves around the basket. Nowadays, I keep them in stacks on a console/sofa table where they are easily in reach, and for some weird reason, my kids actually put them back there when they’re done. I don’t understand it, but I’m sticking with it for now. I tried to set a limit on books once, and I was the one that couldn’t manage! I can get so inspired for homeschooling ideas that I just grab whatever I think we might use at the time. We also make it a habit to go back every other week, and are usually ready to return everything, which ends up being before the due date. The only really helpful advice I can offer, LOL, is keeping the book receipts either on the fridge or bulletin board, and also writing the due dates on your monthly calendar. 🙂

  6. My system is similar to Jen’s, with the happy twist that we get a notice from the library 3 days before the due date. We gather up the books, go through and make a “renew” pile and a “turn in” pile, and then head to the library. So far, I’ve only had to pay $2 in late fees, and those books were, ahem, mine. I have also discovered that library books like to slide between Annika’s bed and the wall, so I know where to go look. 🙂

  7. I “heart” our library’s on-line catalog. I know there are books in our house that have been checked out for more than 4-5 months- we just keep renewing them. We also get email notifications of impending due dates, so I can try to renew, or if the book is popular enough to be on hold for someone else, and i can’t renew it, at least i have a few days to track it down.

  8. I have a bookshelf called “the library shelf” and I keep things there. When the girls were young I would bring the books back to the shelf every day when I tidied their rooms. I actually have a bigger problem now because I’m not reading them out loud and I forget what we have. The girls are also now tidying their rooms so I don’t go in as often. We have a primitive library–no online system, but no fines!

  9. my kids are older now so we just keep them in a bag and it hasn’t been a problem. when they were younger, i just didn’t use the library because i figured it was cheaper to just buy the books…as opposed to paying the late fees. sorry not much help there.paula

  10. I hear you! I have four books that were due Monday.When we get home I write the due date on the calendar (but obviously that’s not helping.)I try to have Kip keep them on his nightstand and he’s not allowed to bring them in the car.Sorta works.

  11. Does your library give you a print out of all the books when you take them out?? I save the list- tack it to the bulletin board so I don’t lose any.

    I also love Library Elf- an online system that sends reminders to your e-mail. Many libraries participate.

  12. We have a basket in our living room. It is usually overflowing. The e-mail courtesy notices and the on-line renewal options are our close friends. For a while the library didn’t charge for overdue children’s books. Now they do and it can smart a little. We have only managed to lose a couple books. The good news is, they did refund us when we found them. I tried a moratorium on library books in the car, but that didn’t work for long. Damn children and their incessant need to read! Good luck!

  13. I don’t really have a system. A couple of years ago, I had to buy a library book because it was just plain lost. And it turned up about a year later! I took it back to the library even though I owned it, ’cause I just wanted the thing back where it belonged!

    I try to limit the amount of books that come home, and once they’re in the house, I corral them to one shelf in our office and maybe a couple of books in each kid’s room. And every week or so, I’ll just round them all up if they’ve wandered. I do have a rule that the books are not allowed to leave the house–no road trips!

    I do check my account online to keep track of what I’ve checked out. One of my problems is keeping county library books separate from school library books. I accidentally returned a school book to the county library in January. Fortunately, they have a system in place for that and the book eventually got back to the school.

    Whew! This is work, keeping track of books, but the price is right!

  14. I can totally relate! I am also a huge fan of renewing our books online. It’s saved me a ton. Our system generally works with about 80% success. I made each girl a “library bag” with their names appliqued on them and a pocket inside that will fit their library card. The rule is simple (in theory): when a book is not being actively read, it’s in that bag. No exceptions. Normally, the bags hang on one of the kitchen chairs in plain view to help us all remember. I also like that our library just switched to a 2 week rental period (from the old month one). It gives us less time to lose them or forget that we had them in the first place. 🙂

  15. I do limit the number of books that DS is allowed to take out. That way, I never have to remember titles or guess if I have everything. On library day, if I can find 4 books, I know I’ve got them all. This has helped a LOT.

    I also use the library’s website to keep track of what it “out” and what needs to be returned.

    I’m a big stickler about returning books (I’m an ex-librarian) on time, and not letting DS renew something over and over. Once is all I allow, and only if he needs the time to finish the book. I think it teaches an important lesson about sharing. In the past, if there was a book that he wanted to take out over and over, I just bought the book.

  16. I have tried a ton of things, bins, and baskets and such. Oddly enough, just putting them in a stack has worked the best. I try to read these books to the girls so I know to just put them back in the stack. Sometimes, if Mary wants to take one to bed then I just try to remember and grab it later after she falls asleep. Otherwise it could be lost in her bed forever!

  17. We have a “library section” in our living room. A bin and a shelf for books specific to homeschool lessons. They go back when notbeing read. Our library’s online data base gets checked twice a week or more to keep us on track. I call out what’s due and can’t be renewed, she puts them in the library bag (our library sells reusables for a fundraiser)which hangs on our hall closet door.It works pretty well.I have had one cd get “lost” this year,but I know it was returned, they’re looking for it. 🙂

  18. Oh, I know that particular nightmare off by heart. My girls are now limited to three books each, and theoretically they have to put them back in the library bag when they’re done. At least then I know at a glance whether I have to go on a mad scavenger hunt the day the library bus is due …

  19. We’re on the email reminder list with our library…they email me when things have four days until they’re due…I also make the kids help me round up the books, somehow this helps. I also avoid videos/dvds because they’re due back sooner and they’re the ones that end up costing me fines. And…everything gets checked out on one card. We tried the multiple card thing…it just made me crazy!

  20. We limit the checkouts, too- and have library bags that go to the library with us, where the books live while they’re in our home.

    But honestly, *I* am the worst culprit! It seems I’m always misplacing books. In the car, in nooks and crannies around the house, some that I’ve had to buy that I’ve left outside- when you’re a mama, you take any little slice of reading time you can get, and often have to abandon reading at a moment’s notice! 🙂

  21. I limit our checkouts to 10 books. I can easily count them the day before “library day” to make sure they are all accounted for. If they aren’t, I renew them online or request the librarian to renew it when we are exchanging the other books. If your local library has an online resource, you should use it. It is so beneficial to all involved.

  22. I hear you on this one – we have 3 different library systems all within 15 min drive of each other! 16 library cards (each of my children wanted their own, I have one each and 1 teacher card…) is difficult to keep up with. We have a huge basket in our livingroom where the books & other accoutrements go when we get back from the library. Most of the time we find a book in time (my kids are older but still…) but I have resorted to threats at times saying that they will pay the overdue fines with their own money. That sort of backfires, however since really, it’s our money to begin with. Oh well. I think the biggest problem is remembering to renew online or take back when due so my fines can be rather hefty.

    My suggestion? Besides limiting # of books/child, maybe put a ‘library basket’ in each of their bedrooms (near the door) – maybe sprinkle a library basket in many different rooms – color code it? Tie it with ribbon?

    If all else fails there’s always bribery. You know incentives! 🙂

  23. Getting my husband to be in charge of the books has really helped. He is much better at it then I am. I also try to write the due date on the calendar and hang up the receipt in the kitchen so I look at it all the time.I would love to have them email me a notice.When I do have to pay I call it my library tithing.

  24. I had to come back to say that we stick to a regular “library day”, too. We go every Friday, and (again) we return every book, every week. Since our library lends books for a 3 week period, even if we miss one week due to illness or something, we still don’t have to worry about having overdue fees. (I swear, I’m really not as rigid as my two comments today imply!)

  25. I’m reading comments and taking notes… I just paid $15.00 in library fines yesterday! It’s often the movie rentals that get me, they have to be back so much sooner than the books.

  26. We have a library book box — low sided, but sturdy enough to hold lots — in our bedroom; the girls don’t have room in their own room, and bedtime stories usually take place in our bed, anyway. When I find a library book elsewhere in the house, the girls have to stop what they’re doing and return it to the box. Annoying? Yes. Slowly having the desired effect? YES. They’re also limited to five books per visit, because it’s an easy number for me to remember. If they can’t find all five on library day, they can only check out as many as they return…and nobody wants to have fewer books than her sister! Additionally, they have to pay the library fine for overdue books they can’t find. It’s not a perfect system, but mostly effective, and it involves less and less work for me as we go along.

  27. i use the rattan messenger bag from crate and barrel that i found for like $3 for my son’s books. the bag has a clear front pocket that I stick the receipt from the library in. you know, the one telling you what books you are actually supposed to have somewhere under the couch? or else, i keep the reciept in my wallet. but i also have a bookshelf in my living room for all of the library books to live, so they don’t get mixed in with our other books. but maybe if you could make each one of your girls their own special library book bag, they will be more interested in keeping their books in there… whenever we clean up, my son knows where the library books are supposed to live. rules, rules, rules… 🙂

  28. Ok! Here are some ideas, straight from the Librarian’s mouth!

    1. Have a bag (like this: http://www.elsiemarley.com/the-kidlet.html ) hanging from each child’s door. They will then be responsible for looking after their books and placing them back in the bag. Use a list to remember which books you have checked out.

    2. Limit check outs. If each child is only allowed a few books, they will be easier to keep track of.

    3. Create a points system. If the girls do well at keeping track of their books and returning them on time, they earn a sticker. Or something. And can perhaps earn a bigger treat if they do well for a month. Or however long you want.

    4. If you know you can’t find something, but are sure it’s somewhere, call to renew those items. That way, you have extra time to hunt for them without fines.

  29. I have the library email me with a ‘your books are almost’ due warning…then I have a couple of days to scrounge around and find them. I also keep my books all in one room (the bedroom) so they don’t get lost.

  30. We set limits on how many books and we have a very similar basket that is often empty. I would rather pick up a book from the thrift store and let them destroy it or lose it than pay for our lost and broken books 🙂

    Have you heard of that program, The Library Elf? You should see if your local library is connected to that b/c then it would email you when stuff is due too.

    Let me know if you need a link! I am so glad to know I am not alone with the battle with the library books 🙂

  31. If not for the library’s renewal via computer system, I’m pretty sure I would never return all of the books we check out. I returned a HEAP today and still found more when I came home. I check our due dates a few times a week. We’ve renewed some things so many times, it’s time to start looking into buying them.

  32. I like hearing everyone’s systems. I have a hard time keeping track of our books, and often have overdue ones, but usually manage to get them back in before they suspend my card. We don’t have fines here, but they do call you when your books are overdue. That helps me. I also renew stuff online and keep the receipt on the fridge so I can check it when I take stuff back. We are at the library almost every week, and I try to return the kids’ stuff each time. Hubby likes the ELF system and I think he gets email notices when his books are due. I don’t allow books out of the house and i discourage library books from being in bedrooms (they just get too buried – though I’m learning where they usually end up).

    Good Luck!!

  33. Two words: Library Elf!

    It’s a “personal reminder service for library users. Avoid library overdues with email alerts. Also offering text message alerts for holds.”

    !!

    You can check the website to see if it supports your branch. The Elf has saved my family much $$$ in library fines (which I don’t mind paying really, considering it goes to the purchase of new material, but still!)

  34. Our two girls each have a library book basket next to their bed. They are allowed to read the books anywhere they want, but they know that they have to return to their “home” each night. When it’s time to go to the library each girl brings out her basket and we load them up in a bag for the trip. Seems to work. If one of them doesn’t keep track of their books they miss out on the next trip to the library. Tough, but it’s enough motivation for my girls to put their books back.

  35. We have stopped going to the Library, as well. I recently paid $110.00 for one little book and it’s late fees!!!!!! That was it for me! I tried the basket thing, the one book at a time thing. What I need is a Netflix for books!!!!!! Maybe trading books with friends would be a better idea. I don’t know. It’s a bummer, though, that’s for sure!

  36. To my mother’s chagrin, I’ve never conquered this. Putting a library return book bin by the back door helps. Also, our library sends email warning notices a few days ahead of time, which helps.

    At the end of the day, though, I’ve made peace with my fines, knowing that they support something I love.

  37. We have to keep the library books in the livingroom. (My kids are young…this is still easy.) When you’re done you have to put them in the bag that hangs in the entryway. Good luck!

  38. We use the same bag for library books and it is only used for library books. I always leave the receipt listing all the books checked out in that bag. The books go into the book basket in the family room and eventually make their way all over the house. When I get the email saying the books are due in 3 days, the first thing I do is renew them all! This is my little insurance against late fees! If one has a hold on it and can’t be renewed, I know I have to prioritize finding that one. Then I start gathering them up and putting them in the library book bag, which is stored out of reach and semi-hidden, when I come across them. Once I’ve found them all (double-checking with the receipt), we go back to the library. So far, this is really working for us. Oh, and the size of the bag limits the number of books we can check out.

  39. Molly they are hidden in the same spot that all the left socks are in. :)When you find the magic answer to this let me know. I’ve had to buy books before because my daughter packed them away in the attic in one of her old backpacks. Fees to many to count.Here lately it has been going fairly smooth. I’ve been checking online each week to see what’s due and then I find them and stick them in our library bag by the door. If I can’t find them, I just renew them online and keep looking and constantly remind the kids to put library books back on the special shelf.

  40. Such a good question. Our library prints you out a receipt so at least I know what I need to find each time. I also tried to put a big basket out and I think that is a good start but it didn’t always work for us either. The best it has ever run in our house (we are notorious late returners) is the summer when we would do our checking out at the library every tuesday. We could visit the library other days but I kept the checking out to one day. Then we knew that we had to return on a tuesday. For us the reading levels were just enough off so Maya had her books she was responsible for and Logan his so it was a little easier to try to find them given that each kid would leave them different places.

  41. We developed a different system because we had masses of trouble keeping track of books and not actually living right in a town with a library.

    We went to a second hand book store and bought appropriate books. Lots of them over a period of time, with help choosing from the kids of course. We are lucky because there was a good place in our closest town and in the grandparents’ city, so this was visited with great regularity.

    Then we borrowed only 1 (!) library book per each child. That was the special book of the week and never lived anywhere but on the bedside table for night time stories. The other books went on the book shelf and a book basket.

    But here’s the deal, only 5 books per kid was out at a time. The others were squirreled away and changed them every week. Friday night was the usual night and that way, the books circulated. When they outgrew the books, we kept only the most favorite and used the others for trade credit on ‘new’ books. You’d be amazed at how cheap really good condition popular books can be bought.

    Eventually we moved and had a library close by and developed a habit of weekly visits. It seemed easier when we went every week (rather than once a month) to find the books.

    They’re all grown up now and voracious readers. Still visiting the used book shops and still borrowing from the library!

  42. My kids are big now, but I have always been rubbish at returning books on time…plus I hate it when you find a favourite book and then you can’t get it again (we have moved- alot). So I have spent a lot of money buying books. And to be honest, I love having books in our own home library…when the kids grow out of them I donate them. But I have been trying to use our brand new library a bit more lately. As for your problem…could you make a big cloth bag to hang on the end of the bed (or somewhere) for each of them for their library books…make them be responsible for them? Just a suggestion.

  43. we are so bad about this too. sadly it is cheaper for me to buy my kids used books from amazon then check them out from the library. we are just so bad at the returning part. we need netflix for books.

  44. I’m a librarian and my husband is a grad student so in addition to books for our little one we tend to have a lot of borrowed books in the house. To keep organized we have dedicated a book shelve to library books. Once we’ve read a book we shelve it there until we make a trip to the library.To stay on top of due dates and borrowed items, I recommend that you sign up for library elf:http://www.libraryelf.com/It keeps track of multiple cards and lets you know when books are coming due and are past due. It also makes reading recommendations based on your check outs. To me this is the best help as the books are usually missing because I can’t remember what we’ve checked out.Good luck – and I hope you won’t let fines keep you from enjoying the pleasures of reading!

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