You are currently viewing Keep Track of Library Books and Avoid Fines
source: Kristin Andrus

Keep Track of Library Books and Avoid Fines

After several failed attempts at making regular trips to the library, we decided to make it part of a “weekly” Daddy date to the library (and out for an ice cream cone) for one of the girls at a time. Unfortunately, we still don’t manage to pull it off weekly, but we’re still getting there more regularly than before. I have many fond memories of spending Saturday afternoons at the library with my dad, and I love that my girls will have those memories.

Despite these semi-regular trips, we still end up paying library fees more often than I’d like, usually during an especially busy season when we’re not able to get there for a few weeks (because the library is 20 minutes away in the opposite direction from all of our other appointments and errands!).

That said, here are 5 tips to help you avoid overdue library books and fines:

1. Keep a detailed list of the books you borrow.

One of the hardest parts about borrowing from the library for us is that the books get scattered around the house. They’re taken to various bedrooms at naptime, brought along for a car ride, accidentally shelved with our personal collection, etc. That’s not a big deal when there are only 3-5 books to hunt from, but if you’re taking out several dozen books, it can be a huge headache!

If your library has an online system, it may automatically keep track of the books you’ve borrowed. If not, ask your librarian to print you a list when you check out or make a quick list yourself before the books get scattered.

2. Create a home for your library books.

A list helps, but ideally, you should create a dedicated place for library books to live when they’re not being read. This might be a dedicated shelf, a basket in the family room or a tote bag by the front door. The key is to put the books back each and every time they’re read so that the pile is always ready to be returned. This makes it much easier to gather up the books to be returned so that it’s not such a hassle to find them.

3. Go to the library regularly.

Another trick for returning library books on time and avoiding late fees is to simply go to the library regularly and commit to returning the previously borrowed books each time you go. Having a variety of books with different due dates just increases your chances of being late on some of them, and like anything else, creating a routine will make it easier for everyone.

4. Return books early.

Rather than holding books until the last day, get into the habit of returning them well before their due dates. When you set reminders or mark the date on your calendar, set it a week before the books are due. It’s kind of like setting your clock ahead by 5 minutes — even though you know you’ve done it, it offers a cushion so that you can avoid being late.

5. Get techy with it.

It’s one thing to be able to find the books you’re looking for, but you may still need to be reminded of the due dates. Set up reminders on your online or desktop calendar to send you alerts by email as the due date approaches. Or subscribe to a service such as Library Elf (or Library Books if you have a Mac) for reminders and another tracking.

Do you visit the library regularly? What do you do to avoid fines and lost books?

Mandi Ehman is the founder and publisher behind Life Your Way, the co-author of All in Good Time, and a wife and the homeschooling mom to four beautiful girls. She lives with her family on a little slice of heaven in wild, wonderful West Virginia and loves coffee, chocolate, easy meals, beautiful things, and minimalist spaces.