Thursday, 7 February 2008

Same again, please

I often find that when I answer the phone the query is a simple one - "can I renew my library books?" And the answer is always yes - probably.

Why probably? Well, in principle all books are issued for three weeks at a time, and can be renewed twice. That means you can hang on to them for a grand total of 9 weeks - just over 2 months, which seems pretty reasonable to me.

So when can't you renew them? You can't renew them if they are horribly overdue. It's a matter of fairness. The person who is good and rings to renew on the due date gets the books for 9 weeks. If we let you renew when you ring because you've finally looked at that third overdue reminder you've already had the books for 9 weeks - why should you get them for longer? The point of library books is that they are a shared resource and everyone gets to have a go. If you hog a book for 9 weeks, renew and repeat twice that's an awful long time when that resource isn't available to anyone else.

You can't renew them if someone else has reserved them. This is tricky because often the reason you still want the book and someone else also wants it is that you are cramming for the same exam or studying the same module. Look at it this way. When you come in and ask for a book and it's out on loan to someone else you don't want me to let that person have the book for 6 more weeks. You want me to get that book back NOW! So its only fair that if you've got the book you bring it back.

How do you get around this? Well - sometimes I think you bite off more than you can chew. You go off with 6 big, fat, in depth books, and you know you're only going to get time to look at one or two. Why not just take a couple and then come back for the others when you have time? Or photocopy (within the law, of course) the section you really need.

The other option is to buy your own. Borrow the book from the library, read it, confirm that you really can't live without it for the duration of your course/exam revision, come to us, ask us for the full details and a current price. Then either order it from Amazon, or try Tomlinsons. They are the supplier we use and generally give a small discount on all titles - unlike Amazon where discounts vary from generous to non-existant depending on the popularity of titles. When you're done you can always make space on your bookshelves by selling your book through Amazon or ebay, or donating it to a charity bookshop.

So how do you go about renewing? The easiest way is to ring us up, during opening hours, with your library card at the ready, and read us the number on the front of the card. You can leave us a voicemail message or an email. In which case please give us that library number, and leave your name and contact details. If there is a problem with renewal then we'll contact you.

Renewals online? Not yet - sorry.
Oh - and finally - if you are renewing becasue you've finished with your book but can't get it back to us then don't forget the book drop box.

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