How to avoid library fines

library books in a basket

If you find yourself desperately hunting for missing library books and cursing at the way 10 cents a day can add up if you take out thirty children’s books and let them go past the due date, this post is for you.

Many of my clients have learned not to use the library. It’s not that they don’t love the free access to knowledge, it’s just that for them it’s never free. They add up what they’ve paid in fines over the years for late and missing books and figure it’s actually cheaper to buy the books.

Let’s fix that right now! Are you ready for this? It’s deceptively simple.

Keep all the library books in one place

Set aside a basket or a dishpan or a tote and keep all your library books in it standing upright.

If you want to get fancy, keep a pair of readers in the library box too.

Why does this work?

It fixes it in your mind that library books have a specific place in your home. You never need to make a decision about where to put any library book you find, because you know it goes in the library book box.

How do I make this work?

  • Make use of “the rule” is principle. This is where we make things easy for ourselves by setting up simple, easy-to-follow “rules” for ourselves. In this case, the rule is, library books can only be set down in the library book box.
  • Feel free to take books anywhere but follow your rule – when you’re no longer reading them, they go back in the box. That means no leaving the book on the table while you answer the door. No putting the book on the couch for a moment while you check your phone. If you’re not reading, the book goes in the box.

How do I remember to take the books back on time?

  • Forget the receipts. Sign up for the email reminders from the library.
  • When you get a reminder, scoop up the box and put it on the front seat of the car to be dropped off the next time you leave the house.
  • Consider taking out just one book at a time. If you have a regular library day, you’ll soon get used to taking your book back and getting your next one.
  • If you have young kids you read to and with, consider reading books at the library and only taking home the favorites. I used to push the stroller up and down hills and valleys to get to the library, quickly pull out a selection of at least twenty books to take home, and then reliably find that there were maybe two in the batch that my kids wanted to read over and over. If we’d taken the time to go through the books in the comfy chairs in the kids’ area of the library, we could just have taken those two home with us.

Once you’ve got the overdue fine/missing book fee thing under control, you’re ready to start taking advantage of your library.  Check out this online calculator from the American Library Association that figures out how much you save by using your library.

© 2013 – 2016 Joyful Surroundings LLC. All rights reserved.


Joyful Surroundings LLC – taming paper, clearing clutter, organizing homes and changing lives

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