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How (+ Why) We Reserve Our Books Online?

As a mom with littles, it's super convenient to have the library pick out the books we want...and then let us pick them up at whichever branch we like.

Here's how we reserve our books...

Step 1: Find A Book We Love

Screenshot of Boston Public Library Place a Hold Button

Photo: Screenshot of Boston Public Library Website

When we come across a book we love, we check to see if it's available at the library. We visit, search for the title and, look for the green button that says "place hold."

Step 2: Hold Confirmation

Photo: Screenshot of Boston Public Library Website

Once we've put that item on hold, a message appears detailing our place in line. If someone has already checked out the book, we may have to wait a bit. When the book is ready, the system sends us an email.

Step 3: Confirm Pick-Up Location

Screenshot of Boston Public Library Single-Click Hold Feature

Photo: Screenshot of Boston Public Library Website

The library allows us to choose where we want them to deliver our borrowed books. We can send them to a library closest to our home, choose a location we frequently visit (like for story time), or any other convenient location.

The library has a cool single-click feature, which allows us to save our preferred location. Now every time we place a hold, the books automatically go to that location. You can also set a second location.

Step 4: Pick-Up Books

When our books are ready, we make sure to pick them up within 7 days. Any longer and staff will return the books to their original location. We also bring a heavy-duty bag, like a thick tote or a backpack to carry our books in.

How Many Holds Can You Have?

50 (for physical books).

Do You Need A Library Card?


Holding books requires you log in with your library card number and password. If you don't have a library card, you can apply for an ecard. And if you don't live in Boston, but work, own property, or live in Massachusetts you can get one too. You can learn more about library cards here.

Can You Reserve Ebooks?


The Boston Public Library has a couple of ereader services (Hoopla and Libby are our faves). They allow you to borrow digital copies of library books from your own devices (i.e your phone, laptop, or tablet). Both services allow you to place books on hold if they are checked out by someone else. Just like a physical book, you'll get a notification when your book or books are ready. Unlike a physical book, you will not have to drive, walk or ride to a branch to get your ebook, it will be available right on your device.

How often do you reserve books online? Why do you use it? If you want to check out some of our favorite stories, you can browse our collection here.

Until next time...

Love The Journey,

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