Get me to the library on time!

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I love to read. I love the library. I am, after all, a librarian at heart (and that's what my degree says). I am also notoriously bad at returning books on time. Especially Phee's books. More than once I've had another library patron comment on my very (very!) lengthy check out receipt after I've paid fines.

No more! I'm all for supporting the library, but I need to stop racking up the overdue fines. The last round almost kept me from picking up a hold I had on Takedown Twenty and I do not like to be kept from Stephanie Plum and her exploding cars! Plus, it's kind of embarrassing to walk in, knowing you owe more than $10.

In an effort to keep my money, I've devised a plan of action. Some of these things we usually do, some are new, and some we're just out of the habit of doing. But, it's time to get it together and get back on track.

Tips for using the library

1. Designate a special library bag. We have a specific bag that we always use for the library. It's big and bright and you can't miss it. Phee can go dig it out of the closet herself. When we're finished with a particular book, sometimes it goes right back into the bag for the next trip. If you always use the same bag, then any family member going to the library will know what to take. No more books left behind!

2. Pick a spot to keep the books. Let's face it: if you have kids, you have stuff. It's hard to always keep track of that stuff. Pick a spot where library books are kept: a basket by the bed, a particular part of a bookshelf set off with bookends, in a special reading nook. Do the same for yourself, even if it just means keeping the books on the nightstand. It's a lot easier to scoop up the books from their designated spots than to rush around searching for them at the last minute.

3. Set a due date reminder on your phone/calendar. I'm terrible at this. I even get emails reminders that books will be due in a couple days and I still can't get them returned on time. I make it a point to enter the due date and set a reminder in my phone as soon as we get to the car. You could also make a big note on your paper calendar. Whatever it takes so that you see, and heed, the reminder!

4. Limit the number of books you check out. I'm not very good at this. I have unrealistic expectations of my free time. I let Phee choose books, and then I choose some for us to read, too. Our pile of checkouts gets out of hand pretty quickly. But, if we're making these tips a habit, then we'll be going more often and we don't need to get 15 books at one time. Find a manageable number that works for you and your kids and then really try to stick to it. Fewer fines and lost books!

5. Make visiting the library a habit. If you're at the library every couple weeks, you're reading more, discovering lots of fun books, and showing your kids how to use the library. Better still, you're there. And if you're in the habit of using the library, you're much more likely to remember to return your books.

How do you remember to get your books back on time? What other tips do you have for successful library trips?

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