Benbrook Library / Library services

Mastering Your To-Read List: Advice for Non-Elephants


No matter how quickly you read, the rate at which you read will never exceed the rate at which new books are released. It’s really not fair; there’s only one of you (unless you’re this guy), and a jillion authors relentlessly cranking out material. Like Jaws and the rhythm, the tide of new books will eventually get you.
To stay afloat on the literary sea and abreast of all of the new stuff you’d like to eventually read, there are a number of options of varying effectiveness available, like keeping a mental list, writing titles on cocktail napkins, clipping book ads and reviews out of newspapers and magazines, or maintaining a “to-read” list on Goodreads. To this point, I’ve been using a combination of the mental list and Goodreads “to-read” methods, but things on the mental list have a tendency to disappear, and the “to-read” list is helpful only if I remember to check it. Fortunately, to find a better option, you need look no further than the library catalog.
You mean there’s a better way? You bet. Using the “Save Search” feature in Polaris, you can set up a search to run automatically as often as once a week and have the results e-mailed to you. This is most awesome, because if you discover a book you want to read but which isn’t being released for several months and so isn’t yet requestable in the library catalog, you can have a search run for the title every week until it is requestable, then put yourself near the tippy top of the hold list. No more forgetting about titles you wanted to read, either entirely or until it’s so late in the game that you end up number 127 on the hold list and have to wait an extra couple months for something for which you’d already been waiting months.*
Here’s how to put the “Save Search” feature to work for you:
-Search for a title in the catalog. From the results screen, click the “Save Search” button near the top left of the page.

-Fill out the details of your saved search, the most important of which are your e-mail address (which should automatically populate as long as you already have it listed in your account), whether or not you’d like to be e-mailed if no results are found, and the frequency of the search.

Be sure to un-check the “Email if no results” box if you don’t want to receive any notification until the item is added to the catalog.

That’s it. Just set up saved searches for the books you’re waiting for, kick back and wait for the notifications of availability to be e-mailed to you, then log in to your account and place your books on hold. Not only is this feature great for patrons, it also saves me from having to keep scraps of paper on my desk that read something like “Request David Baldacci’s new book for Mrs. Readsalot in February 2016.” Not that I’m not glad to provide such service, I’m just saying there’s technology available that can accomplish the same thing and isn’t subject to forgetting, as fallible humans are. Did I just imply that a machine can do my job better than I can? Oops. Probably best to forget I said anything.


*It’s also easy to use the catalog to keep up with books you’d like to read that have already been released but which you don’t yet want to request. Just click “Add to list” (it’s below the “Place a Hold” option) while viewing an item in the catalog, and it’ll be added to a list that you can view within your account any time.

One thought on “Mastering Your To-Read List: Advice for Non-Elephants

  1. Pingback: The Library Catalog: Magic for Muggles | The Shelf Life

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