Friday, May 16, 2014

RMS - Reading Management System

I was thinking a little bit about how I feed the monkey on my back. Last year, I read almost 200 books, and it's been like that for years. I used to actually acquire nearly everything that I read, and add it to my library, but books were cheaper back in those days, and I made extensive use of the used bookstores around town. Today, if I assume that my reading tends to be about half paperback and half hardcover, then at current prices, I'd have to spend about $2,000 on hardcovers and $800 on paperbacks, for over $200 a month to satisfy my cravings.

Luckily, we have a pretty good library system in the area, so the bulk of what I read comes from there.

In the beginning, I'd generally wander down to the library once or twice a week, and just browse the new books on that section of shelves, which might remind me of another author whose works I could find in the older stacks, or hit the card catalog and find a non-fiction book on a topic which intrigued me.

Around the time I started this blog, I created a text file on my computer where I kept track of what reviews were coming up, so I could quickly post them to Twitter, and also a list of books and authors that I wanted to read next, perhaps recommended by another blogger or an author, or a friend. Then I discovered Goodreads, and in the process of listing all of the authors and books which I could recall having read, I came up with a massive to-be-read list there, as well. Every so often, I check that list, and come up with a handful of titles to search for at the library. If I find one, I put it on a hold request, and go to the library to pick it up.

For most of this time, I've used the main library downtown, although there are perhaps a dozen branch libraries scattered through the city and surrounding cities, and sometimes I'd actually drive twenty miles out to a satellite library to pick up something they had on the shelves there, since I really didn't want to wait for the hold and transfer process to run its course. But the library downtown has a horrible parking problem. During normal business hours, it can be nearly impossible to find a parking space in the main lot, and I often would have to find something on a nearby side street, so I grew tired of the hassle.

Happily, the book hold system allows you to have a book sent to one of the branch libraries instead of the main library, and one of those branches just happens to be in a shopping center right on my route home from work. So in the last few months I transitioned all of my new holds to that branch, and I can just make a slight detour on my way home from work when I have books to return or to pick up. It's wonderfully convenient!

The other thing that's available in the library's online hold system is called My Lists. I created a list called "To be Held". When I become aware of a book or an author that I might like to read, I log on to my account and do a search in the system for it. If I find that it's available, I add it to that list. Since the online system also allows only a maximum of five books to be put on hold at once, I have to carefully manage my holds, so I don't fill those slots with too many books that have a long waiting list of other people who have placed holds, otherwise the whole house of cards collapses.

So I'll have one or two holds on that list where I'm a ways down in the queue, and then in the other slots I'll have two or three books that are immediately available, and just require transit from one of the library branches to the branch where I like to pick them up. The reservation system sends me an email when the books show up, and I time things out so I can return a book or three and pick up a book or three to keep my TBR pile on the nightstand fully stocked.

Hey, it ain't always easy being an addict, but I have a method to my madness.

1 comment:

Laying down the Law said...

I really enjoyed reading this. I look forward to when I can sit down and read straight through a book again.