One of the best things about working at the library is that sometimes you get to see the very best of humanity. Recently, a child, around 8 years old came to the desk to ask if we had a particular book available. It was the latest book in a popular series that a lot of 8 year olds are reading these days. I told him that someone else had that book checked out right now but that I could place a hold for him. He was understandably disappointed. 

His mom joined him at the desk, and he lamented that he couldn't get the book. Mom responded, “Look on the bright side. Someone out there is getting a lot of joy reading that book right now.” I don't know how much the message changed the boy's attitude, but it certainly affected me. It made me realize that I had never given a single thought to the other person's happiness when I was waiting for a book I wanted. 

As a result of that wise mom's message to her young son, I've decided to look for all the bright sides of library holds and share my findings with you. 

If you're an avid reader and a regular library user, at some point, you've probably had to place a book on hold. You've heard about a book on NPR or on a bestseller list, but when you try to get it from the library, someone else has beaten you to the punch. All you can do is place a hold and wait for your turn. Besides the joy all those other people are getting from the book, what’s the bright side? Once you've placed that book on hold, you don't have to try to remember the title anymore! All those popular books you want but can’t possibly read all at the same time? We'll remember those for you! Plus, you'll get a happy little surprise when we call to let you know you've got a new book ready for pick up.

Another bright side of those holds? If you want a book to read while you're waiting, ask the librarian for a recommendation. We always like to talk about books and will be happy to find you something else to read, and hopefully enjoy, while you're waiting for your hold. And if we're all lucky, you might discover a book or an author you love but never would have found if you hadn't had to place a hold on that other book!

The library has another type of hold that is really nothing but bright sides! It's called an “on-shelf hold.” Just like it sounds, an on-shelf hold is for a book that is currently available on the shelf that you'd like us to hold onto for you. To place an on-shelf hold, you simply go online, find the book you want, and select “place a hold” from the description page. If you'd rather, you can call and tell us the title, and we can place the hold for you. That's all the work you have to do! The library staff will get the list of on-shelf holds, pull the requested books from the stacks, put them on the holds shelf, and let you know your items are ready. 

When you come into the library, the holds shelf is located right in front of the checkout counter. You'll find your books identified with a printed slip of paper with the first four letters of your last name printed on it. You'll grab your books, take them to the checkout desk or the self-checkout station, get them checked out to your card, and be on your way. 

If you can't or don't want to come inside the library, we've also got a curbside delivery service. Whether you're trying to avoid going into public spaces, have kids you don't want to unbuckle, or just don't want to get out of your car, let us know. We'll make you a curbside appointment and arrange a time when you can drive up to the orange cones and curbside sign in front of the library. Call us when you arrive, and we'll bring your books right out and put them in your trunk or backseat. It's a quick and convenient option that we're happy to offer to everyone.

See, there really are lots of great ways to think about library holds! To the wise mom of the slightly disappointed 8 year old, I want to thank you for your insightful words. Sometimes we all need to be reminded that if you just look for a bit, there might be able to find an unexpected bright side. 

Get more information about all kinds of library holds by going online to or calling (405) 372-3633.

The Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. Library hours are Monday-Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Paula Long is an Adult Services Librarian at the Stillwater Public Library.

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