Library Elf is a third-party website worth checking out that helps you keep track of library books that are due soon, overdue, and ready for pickup. Their free service offers basic e-mail reminders on borrowed items that are either due soon or overdue for a single library card.
Their premium service features text message alerts, alerts for holds that are ready for pickup, and the ability link up multiple library cards (handy for families) for a $20 annual fee. New users get a free trial. If you’re really lucky your local library might be listed as a subscriber, meaning they’ve paid a bulk fee so that all of their patrons get premium service for free.
If you really want to manage multiple cards with basic alerts while still avoiding the annual fee, there is a simple workaround. Simply sign up each person’s card with a unique e-mail address (don’t all kids have their own e-mails now?), and then make a filter to forward the Elf e-mails to your primary desired e-mail. Even simpler, if you use Gmail you can use “firstname.lastname@example.org” and “email@example.com” to sign up for separate accounts, but all incoming e-mail will end up at the same place.
I love my local library, but their online library software leaves a lot to be desired. Hold notices still arrive only by snail-mail which I think is wasteful since they could just use e-mail. Until a few months ago, I had to call in to renew any titles; finally at least I can do that online. I only get overdue notices if I’m already late by over a week. I guess I’m just frustrated because I know that this type of thing is not very difficult to program and implement. I know that returning late library books are my responsibility, but a better system would prevent overdue books overall and thus improve book availability for everyone.
By Jonathan Ping | Frugal Living | 8/23/12, 3:00am