An Interview With the Library Book You Placed on Hold

Have you ever wondered how items you've placed on hold get to you? What happens between the time you put a library item on hold and pick it up for checkout?  

We interviewed the most popular item placed on hold—The Book—and they are ready to share their journey from city to city, from one patron to another. 

Interviewer: To officially begin this interview, tell us a little about yourself for our readers.
The Book: Hi, I'm a San Mateo County Libraries book. Not trying to brag, but I am currently trending. I'm famous, loved and well taken care of. I'll be seeing the new family I'm staying with soon. It'll be a blast—21 days of being held tightly, who wouldn't want to experience that? Some people can't even put me down because they're too excited to know what happens next.

What do you think makes you so popular?
Oftentimes, I am a reading assignment or book club selection. Besides that, it's because I work hard to expand my readers' knowledge and imagination. I can be funny and relatable, entertaining and informative. 

How does your journey begin? How does one get a hold of you?
If you have a library card with San Mateo County Libraries, log in to your account, search for my title, and hit the "Place hold" button once you find it. If you don't have a library card, what are you waiting for? You can apply for one today using our Card Services! The benefits of having a library card are remarkable. 

So many benefits.
Big benefits. Big. HUGE! You should interview Hotspot or Karaoke Machine next time.  

So, say we've hit that "Place hold" button, what comes next?
Once that button has been smashed, the system adds me to a list of items on hold and blasts the info to all our libraries. The first branch to scan me into the system gets to send me to the patron's chosen library. If I'm still checked out, I get processed as soon as the next copy is returned to a library. If I'm not checked out, a staff member looks for me. Sometimes, looking for me takes a while. 

Say you've been found and scanned. Can we find you on the hold shelves now?
If I was found or returned to the library where the patron wanted to pick me up, I'd be on the hold shelf in a jiffy. However, most of the time, there's a wait as I travel from one library to another. There's a chance that I'll be traveling from places like Daly City or Redwood City. Patrons of the city libraries can borrow from the county libraries and vice versa. 

How do you travel? Rideshare? BART? Caltrain? SamTrans?
Well, San Mateo County Libraries has a special truck that visits all our libraries to pick up and deliver bins full of library collections. It does this six days a week, all year round—except holidays, of course. 

Does it get pretty crowded in those bins?
It can get tight. You can tell which staff members are masters of Tetris by how they configure us all in those bins!

Let's say you've made it to the branch where you'll be picked up. Can we find you on the hold shelf now?
Patience, my friend! We must tell the system I arrived at the branch by scanning me again. The system then prints a receipt with the patron's name, which is placed between my pages. After this, they take me out to the hold shelves. The staff ensures we're all arranged alphabetically by patrons' last names so you can find us easily. 

Wow, that's a long journey. How would the patron know when you're ready to be picked up?
When I'm checked in at the branch where I’m supposed to be picked up, this automatically sends an email to the patron telling them that I'm ready to be taken home. If the patron doesn’t have email, they get an automated phone call.  

That's so cool! What else do our libraries offer?
Well, there's this program called Link+, where patrons can borrow items not available in San Mateo County Libraries by getting them from associated public and college libraries all over California and Nevada. 

Tell me, how far have you traveled?
Reno and Vegas, but that's a story for another time. 

Thank you for sharing your journey with us and all our readers.
Of course! We're all here to serve our patrons, learn and have fun. 

Well, there you have it. We hope you found this interview with The Book you placed on hold informative and illuminating. Let us know what you think about it. Next time we interview The Book, we'll find out what happened in Vegas.