Secret Services from the Library

Discussion Post

Sometimes you want a book from the library and it simply is not on the shelves.  What is a reader to do?  Below we list some other options you can consider to find and borrow the materials you want!

Interlibrary Loan

If your library does not have the book(s) or other materials you are looking for, you can ask that they search for the material in other libraries and have it mailed to you.  Some libraries may charge a nominal fee for this service, but others offer it free.  I have had semi-rare books shipped to me from across the country!

Partnering Libraries

Many libraries have combined their systems with other local libraries.  When you search the online catalog and don’t see the book you want in your home library, set the search to comb through ALL the libraries with which yours is partnered.  If a partnered library has the book, you will be able to borrow it!  You should be able to pick it up and return it at your home library, so no travelling for you!

Request a Purchase

If your library doesn’t carry a book or DVD you’d like, you can ask that they consider purchasing it.  Their ability to purchase will be determined by how many funds they have left for the year for purchases.  However, I’ve found many libraries are very good about trying to buy the materials their patrons want.

Free Cards at Other Local Libraries

If you show your hometown library card to other libraries in your area, you should be able to get a library card from those institutions, as well.  Even if you can’t drive to them regularly, you may find that their ebooks, audiobooks, and online databases are useful to you.  Other libraries may offer free cards to individuals across the state.  I’ve been informed, for instance, that the Free Library of Philadelphia will mail a card to anyone who lives in Pennsylvania.  Let us know in the comments if you know of similar programs!

Purchase a Card

If you would like a card at a library that is not local, you can usually purchase one for the year.  This may be because you’re doing research at a library out-of-state or because you’d like to use the services of a local academic library.  Often these cards run about $40, so this may not be an option for everyone, but I’ve seen some listed for less.  I would recommend, for instance, checking out your local community college before another academic institution.  Since their mission is to serve the community, they might provide easier access to their materials.

Online Databases

If you don’t see the book you want on the shelf, check the library’s online resources.  They should have a tab for audiobooks and ebooks that you can search separately from the library catalog.  You may also find interesting programs such as free test prep, programs to help you learn a new language, access to Universal courses (which teach anything from soap making to chemistry), and family genealogy resources.

What other services do libraries offer that not all patrons may know about?

22 thoughts on “Secret Services from the Library

  1. Dale says:

    I’ve requested numerous purchases from my public library and I’ve never been denied. Sometimes it takes a while to get them but I’ve always gotten them. I’ve also requested several interlibrary loans. I don’t get to keep them as long and I can’t renew them but they are free! And I usually get them sooner than purchase requests. With a library card from the county in which I live, I can get free cards for the libraries of the three neighboring counties (one of those counties is in a different state). I love libraries! Great post and great information!


    • Krysta says:

      Yes, ILLs can be inconvenient if you can’t renew them, but I have to admit they’re still often a better deal than paying for the book myself! It sounds like you have a great library system!


  2. Books, Vertigo and Tea says:

    Wonderful post! Our library system is all interconnected and will normally direct you to the nearest location with a title available automatically. You have the option of then having the books delivered to your local library or borrowing the ebook in most cases. They have also put a system in place that makes it super convenient to request titles and be notified when purchased. I feel blessed to have the library access we do here. I grew up in a smaller town with a lot of economic troubles that forced the closure of many branches and limited the days others were open.


    • Krysta says:

      That sounds absolutely ideal! I have been to libraries with shortened hours, which is sad, so it’s always nice to hear of all the good things libraries are still managing to accomplish!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. luvtoread says:

    Great post! I use my library all the time. My local library now has access to, which has a ton of online courses that can be taken, as long as I have a library card. I haven’t tried any of them yet, but one day I hope to be able to take advantage of this opportunity!


  4. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    I love the request to purchase thing!! Sadly I’m not tech savvy enough to get my head round the a lot of the online database, but I do like their catalogues (even if my particular one has glitchy ones)


  5. Jenna @ Falling Letters says:

    Online databases have definitely become a significant resource lately My library has really expanded its digital services in the past few years, so there are some services I’m not familiar with yet (such as PressReader for reading newspapers). Most people I know here in my city buy rather than borrow their books, so one ‘secret service’ I often find myself explaining is how to put a book on hold and have it delivered to your branch.


    • Krysta says:

      Yes, I often hear people say that don’t use the library because the library doesn’t have the books they want. That’s true for me often, but I just request it from another library! Quite simple, really! But when I say stuff like “holds” to people they often have no clue what I’m talking about so then I have to explain to them how the system works. Unfortunately, the brochures don’t always cover the details.


  6. Kristen Moreno says:

    I’m a frequent library-goer and I knew about some of these programs or useful tips, but others are absolutely new to me. Thank you for this post, it helps a bookworm in need, haha.


Leave a Reply! We'd love to read your thoughts!

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.