If you’re a library user, you probably know that terrible feeling when you hear about a great book, you rush to your library catalog and type in the title and . . . .nothing.
Your library doesn’t have that book.
It’s the worst.
The good news is that most libraries will let you request a book purchase!
After all, libraries want to have books in their catalog that their patrons want to read and when you put in a purchase request, that’s a STRONG signal that this is a book their patrons want.
If you’ve never done it before, here’s how it works.
How to Request Your Library Purchase a Book
First, google the name of your library and “purchase request” or “suggest a purchase.” Most libraries will have a dedicated form that you can fill out requesting a book be purchased and added to the library’s collection.
Usually the page will pop right up on Google.
For instance, when I search “Durham Library Purchase Suggestion,” this is what shows up.
The form will usually ask for your information (including library card number), plus details about the title, including the ISBN number.
You can find the ISBN number for any book by googling the title of the book and “ISBN number.”
Fill the form in, press submit and you’re good to go!
Obviously there is no guarantee your library will choose to purchase it, but my experience has been that MOST of the time they do!
(Most libraries ALSO have some guardrails around these purchase requests – generally you need to have a current library card to put in a request, there may be limits on how many purchase suggestions you can make in a certain time period, and most libraries will not accept purchase requests from authors for their own books).
If your library DOESN’T have a page or online form, ask at the circulation desk or call the library and ask what the process is for requesting the library purchase a book – they’ll be able to tell you in 10 seconds!
One other perk of requesting that your library purchase a specific title is that many libraries will put you at the top of the hold line for a book purchase you request, meaning that once it arrives at the library and is processed, you’ll get it very first. Major score.
Any other questions about requesting book purchases from your library? Let me know in the comments!
My library also wants the full library card number. Is there a good place to find that information online?
Janssen Bradshaw says
That will be YOUR library card number – so if you don’t have a library card, you’ll need to get one before you request a book for purchase. You can also call your library and get your card number if you can’t find your physical card.
That makes so much more sense! My mind was reading it like it was as asking for the call number. Thanks!
Just an FYI – the library I work at will only buy books from the publishers they already buy from – meaning that they don’t buy books from some small presses or self-published.
Lynette Ballard says
I just did this for the White House book you read for book club! They ordered it and I am top of the list!
I also remember my mom requesting a book we saw on reading rainbow when I was little. 😂
Jeanne Worthy says
HAD to comment that you called it an ISBN number…..it stands for international standard book number….but seems as if most people do call it that!! Only reason I know, is that we have three published books that we’ve purchased ISBNs for……
Also, re your comment on not asking library to purchase your own book….maybe not the way you presented it as a request, but IF you are an author, get in touch with the book purchaser (usually a designated person) and see if they would be interested in buying your book for the library’s collection. We have three Montana 4×4 exploration books that include a TON of local history…our Missoula Public Library, Montana, has purchased two copies of each….one to circulate, one to keep in reference.
A Fisher says
I went through the Request a Book form for a book for children and my library told me they would get it. A couple of months later they responded back to me that the book does not meet their purchase criteria from their approved vendors.
What does that mean?
Janssen Bradshaw says
It’s hard to say for sure without knowing the book or your library, but my guess would be it’s not from a mainstream publisher (i.e. self published or Usborne) and since most libraries make all their purchases through vendors like Baker & Taylor, it’s not available for them to purchase through there.
Dana Beck says
So my libraries request form has slots for ‘title’ ‘date’ ‘reviewed/cited in:’ ‘price’ and ‘source’. What do I put in the blanks? I don’t know what those mean.
Janssen Bradshaw says
I’d ask your library (call or go into the desk) so you know you’re giving them what they want.