Every book you want for free, just not as fast as you want them
May 9, 2009
I am a huge fan of the hold system for the L.A. public library. You can look through their online catalog for any book in any of their branches, put that book on hold, and have it delivered to any library in the system, all for free. You can wait up to several months for the most popular books when they don't appropriately anticipate demand, so using this system requires putting new books on hold as soon as possible to end up earlier on the list. The interface tells you where you are on the waiting list, and how many copies the library system has, so you can make a pretty good guess as to how long you will have to wait to receive the book. However, they have even better data, so it would be nice if they would give you a best guess as to when the book would become available based on that information. In my opinion, they give you too long to pick up the book you placed on hold -- up to 10 days, even though frequently you can only check out the book for 3 weeks. The books would circulate faster if they only gave you a week to pick them up. Otherwise, I'm quite happy with the system.
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