We registered for our library cards. This comes after years of me using my library card relatively actively in Vancouver. I very much like the VPL app which is a nice way to simply note books that I see reviewed or somehow notice, to request them and then pick them up on my way to/from work when they arrive.
The initial sense we get here in Berlin is that we might not turn out to be that active as users. It seems like almost everything is fee-based. The €10 p.a. seems pretty reasonable for a library card (although one of the girls mentioned that we could have just got them cards and used them for all of us, since kids’ cards are free), but there is a fee to hold a book, a fee to have it delivered to one’s neighbourhood branch and then another fee to have it reshelved. So while you can treat the whole Berlin system as a catalogue and library, unless you want to pay for all of these little services, you’re somewhat restricted to library branches within easy (i.e. public transit) reach. New books are also an extra €2 which is probably the category I read most, as I notice reviews in the newspaper. Hm…
If a new book is at a different branch, the fees might add up
- hold: €1
- delivery: €1
- add-on for new books: €2
- reshelving: €1
So that’s €5. If it’s a new hardcover, it might cost €20 so I’m still much better off getting the library copy especially since we’re trying not to accumulate “things” in Berlin, but still, not a way to encourage readership, it seems.
All that really makes me appreciate the Vancouver system that has found a compromise between online retail-like convenience and the no fee enticement to draw me to the library.