Shh! How to make your local library buy books for you

Is there a book you want to read, but don’t want to buy? Ask your local library to buy it for you! Every time you borrow from a library instead of buying for yourself, you save at least $20.

That’s this many $1 emojis: 💸💸💸💸💸💸💸💸💸💸💸💸💸💸💸💸💸💸💸💸

Be honest. That book you want to buy – how many times are you actually going to read it? Once? Less than once?

Less than once is this many book emojis:

Having possessions is soo 1998. Bookshelves are the enemies of people who rent (like I do). When the library is your book pimp, you won’t find yourself having to move piles of books every time your landlord has a wet dream about property prices, kicking you to the curb.

It’s free to ask the library to buy books and you can fill out the form online, from anywhere. It’s also better for the environment, because fewer books get printed. Technically, you’ve already paid for any new book the library buys thanks to the taxes you pay, which fund public services like libraries, blah, blah, blah, on and on it goes.

How to ask your local library to buy books for you

  1. 🖥️ Go to the library’s website and check if they already have the book. Search the title first. If nothing shows up, try searching the name of the author. Make sure to get the spelling right, since library search engines are about as intelligent as your pet guinea pig.
    If they don’t have the book…
  2. 🔎 Google search: [name of your library] request a book purchase
    • Example: Auckland Central City Library request a book purchase
  3. 🎯 Click the appropriate search result. Example: Ask us to buy it
A google search for "Auckland Central City Library request a book purchase" where the first result shows an 'Ask us to buy it - Auckland Libraries' link.
  1. 🧭 Follow the directions to lodge your request.
    • Example: for Auckland libraries, scroll down and click the ‘Start’ button.
A button on the library website that says 'start' with text above saying it will take 5 minutes to complete.
  1. ✍️ Complete the form.
    For Auckland libraries, you will need to input some information, including:
    • Title
    • Author
    • Year of publication (for Auckland libraries, it must have been published after 2015.)
    • Your library card number
    • Your email, so the library can let you know once the book is ready to borrow
  2. 📨 Submit the form. Wait for the library to let you know once the book is ready to borrow. Sometimes this can take a couple of months.

Libraries are not in the business of instant gratification. The good news is, while you’re waiting for your book to arrive, there is a waiting room with seven billion books to keep you occupied.

Why books are still the best way to learn anything

As much as I love a good podcast, YouTube video, or blog post, I continue to find books to be the best and fastest way to learn anything beyond the surface level basics.

Compared to uploading a podcast, a YouTube video or a blog, it’s hard to get a book published. There is the work involved in writing it, then there are the gatekeepers, such as literary agents, publishers and book store owners. 

The good news for people like you and me is that anytime we pick up a book, we are guaranteed a certain quality.

→ Something that has helped me learn whole topics fast – within 1-3 books – is to Google ‘best selling books of all time about [topic]’. If a book has sold a lot of copies, it has helped a lot of people. Therefore, it’s a pretty safe bet that it can help you and me. 

If you only read the 1-3 best selling books of all time on a topic, it will have an outsized positive impact on your understanding of the world around you.

6 best books to ask your local library to buy

These are the best books I’ve borrowed from Auckland Central City Library in the past 12 months.

Happy learning!


Thanks to Hamish Bulsara, Cynthia Gao and Emily Zhu for reading drafts of this.

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