Dr. Umesh Jain
is now exclusively responsible
for TotallyADD.com
and its content
Dr. Umesh Jain is now exclusively responsible for TotallyADD.com and its content

The Forums Forums Tools, Techniques & Treatments Organizing & De-Cluttering Any tips for keeping those library books and fines under control?

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  • quizzical
    #91103 |

    :) Part vent, part request for advice…

    I’m looking for anybody who’s got words of wisdom on how to do libraries when you have ADD. I always check out way too many books, renew them to the limit (nine weeks, for crying out loud), and still manage to return at least half of them after the due date. It’s almost like we are renting books, rather than borrowing them!

    Actually, that’s helped me a little with the guilt, at least, to just consider it that way, so I can pay the fine and move on, but I’d love to be able to improve our current situation. I’ve got three voracious junior readers, two of whom are mostly into things that come in series and/or are quick reads, like graphic novels and so forth – skinny things that so easily slide under couches, between the bed and the wall, in all those crevices in the back of the car….

    Yes, I use the online options to the hilt – online e-mail notifications, online renewal, online bill pay :) – and those help, but I’m still not keeping up.

    Our local branch – which already wasn’t particularly close by – is closed for renovation, which doesn’t help. When we go to another branch we get into that “who knows when we’ll be here again?” mindset and pile the bags full. And I’m reluctant to make a special trip just to return books when it’s a 20-minute drive each way. So it happens when it happens, nine dollars later.

    I’ve tried to keep baskets around the house reserved for library books, but the boys don’t use them. One has diagnosed ADD, the other, not, but he definitely has a pretty loose hold on organization skills. Eldest daughter, by contrast, lives in her left brain; the organized, methodical one. She puts her books where they belong every time, and since she loves to read, her books are always big fat things that are easy to find.

    But the boys…they read, they put their skinny little Volume 5-of-21 book down wherever, usually open on its belly to save the place, or in a stack of magazines or newspapers, meaning I have to sift through everything before I can toss anything into the recycle bin, or in a pile of our own books, or up in the bathroom….you name it.

    For myself, I’m starting to come to terms with the notion that maybe I should just buy books for a while. After all, I haven’t had much focus until recently – I can find plenty of great books at yard sales and thrift stores that I haven’t read – so I’m going to stick to that for now. But I can’t see myself telling the kids not to use the library. And while I’d like them to read bigger, longer books both for practical and academic reasons, I want them to still be able to read what they like.

    Nagging hasn’t worked – “PUT the books in the BASKET, wouldja JUST!” – except as a venting mechanism. :) Charging the kids for lost books might be effective, but so far there’s only been one outright loss – the others are just overdue.

    Making the boys hunt for their lost books doesn’t seem to work, either – they give up pretty early on, and it’s hard to just let it go when I’m pretty sure five or ten minutes of Looking Under Stuff will yield the treasure, so I end up caving and doing the looking.

    Maybe I should charge them a finder’s fee? Or hire the daughter to organize the library books? She’s really eager to earn money. Not sure how much to pay her…I’d have to figure out how much I’ve paid in fines, and that sounds suspiciously like A Project Not Gotten Around To.

    Anyway, I’d love to know if anyone here has hit on something that works!


    Hi quizzical – sadly my library fines are so high that I no longer borrow books. It’s cheaper to buy them!

    I have not worked out a system for making myself take them back by the due date, even if they are in a pile waiting to go.

    …..And there is ALWAYS that one book that hides for months!

    So now I use a Kindle instead because it works out cheaper. However, I don’t read as much as I used to do. If I did, then it wouldn’t be financially viable.

    I subscribe to Audible audiobooks too and sometimes buy used books from Amazon. All still cheaper than my fines were!

    I guess with a family of readers it’s more difficult because that would be untenable financially.

    Could you have a ‘reading room’ so the boys don’t take their books out of there at all? At least then you’d only have one room to search.

    Alternatively, there are schemes here in places like shops, Church halls, even at bus stops, where people who have read a book leave them so others can read it. They can take one from the selection in return. So it’s a book swap scheme. Do they exist where you are? If not, could you start one? There are no fines, it doesn’t matter if a book isn’t returned, but it works quite well as long as people give as well as take. It’s not overseen by some judgemental librarian – it just runs itself once set up.

    (The Audiobook I’m listening to at the moment is narrated by someone who must have ADHD judging by the speed she’s reading. I like to imagine it’s Larynxa reading it – didn’t she say she narrates books or have I got that wrong?)

    Patte Rosebank

    Scattybird, unless that audiobook you’re listening to is a highly salacious romance novel from Silver Publishing, with very graphic descriptions of the intercourse, then I’m not the one who narrated it!

    To keep track of the due dates of your library books, you could use bright neon-coloured, super-sticky Post-It notes. When you get each book home, write the due date, MINUS ONE DAY, on a Post-It note, in bold, black Sharpie marker. Then, stick the note to the front cover of the book. The super-sticky Post-It note will stay stuck to the book, so you can’t miss it. And it will serve as a constant reminder of when you need to return the book.



    Similar to Scattybird, I don’t use the public library anymore either. Not only were the fines ridiculous, but the stress of trying to find them and then return them on time just wasn’t worth it. Instead I buy books from yard sales and charity shop bookstores. I also don’t feel guilty when my kids rip pages or I turn down the corner of the page to mark my spot :) If there is something specific that I want I’ll order it online or Costco, and won’t feel too bad as I’ve saved money from not paying fines and usually buying used books.

    One thing I’ve done during the summer is to go to the library when they have kids reading programs and also to read at the library but then leave without taking any books with us.


    Larynxa – that’s a shame. The narrator has a lovely velvety voice, but on the plus side I can shout at her for going too fast without feeling guilty.

    I must check out Silver Publishing! :)

    Plato girl – I agee, the stress of it is worse than the fines. I just chalked up a fine in my library at work for £65 so that’s around $50? Bonkers isn’t it.


    Super-sticky post-its? I didn’t know they made those; I don’t use the regular ones because they fall off everything!

    Our library stopped stamping the due dates on the books a few years ago – so adding a note to each book would probably be a big help. I try noting the due dates on the calendar but it doesn’t always happen….

    I like the reading room idea, too – most of the reading happens in the family room, so it wouldn’t be a big change. I could limit the reading in other rooms to non-library books. And with the post-its on the library books, they’d be easier to spot!


    1. E reader. You can still get library books on them and they just disapear when times up (don’t know if they do kid books though)

    2. create a “home library”, where the books (all kept in one location conveniently located near the front door or garage) are signed out by the individual and they don’t get another until the first is returned (possible motivation for them to find books plus you only get fines on one each and then THEY pay for them).

    Get your daughter to help if she’s good at that stuff. secure clipboards to the wall with a pen tied to it so you don’t lose them too.

    3. Plan to go to the library regularly, and schedule it. Might take a while to get used to and then to remember to bring the books when you do.

    4. Just came to me! If you can find them anywhere, get those keychains that beep when you clap and tie them onto bookmarks (even if like me you always lose the bookmarks you can still find them)

    5. An hour, 2 hours, a day before you plan to go to the library, give them an incentive to find any lost books (like ice cream on the way back from the library, if they’re into that)

    Hope you find something that works cause #6 is stop reading ;)


    I owe the Seattle Public Library and the King County Library System fines from oh, about 20 years ago. I really gotta remember to pay those. LOL!


    Oh, here’s a great library alternative. On-line, so no fines :)



    Like others here I long ago decided that adhd tax on library books was too high, now, I buy them, second hand is cheaper for sure.


    I love the adhd tax idea. I had a HECK of a time when I was younger with library books. The librarian actually snarled at me for being late yet again.. and I very politely told her I probably financed a whole row of books in the years I was late.. grrr.

    After I had my girls I had to limit the number of books. I had to have a spot for MY books so I would remember where they were to return (especially if they were for a paper).. I got better but let me tell you they have books on tape, and videos/movies.. We had to really pay attention to where we put them.. We would take them back as soon as we were done with them.. That helped some.

    We hardly ever LOST books forever… I did have to pay for a couple but not many. Now I buy books at second had book stores If I can. I have had to do a moritorium on books several times.. and to take a box of booksback to the bookstore before I brought anymore home.

    I have used the post-it idea.. with mixed results.. I am fortunate to have the library very centrally located so I could run whatever by and drop it off in the slot… ( one good thing about living in the Montana “outback”.. ) Limit the number of books.. that way you get to go to the library more often.. and pick up the other books you wanted to bring home the last time..

    I still have to pay fines, but the women at the library know I have ADD and I don’t mean to be a flake.. at least they don’t snarl at me.. I usually make a joke out of it.. “well how much do I owe you this time?” Only use it for movies and books on CD for traveling for now..

    Thanks for the topic.. Annie


    Libraries are a great resource in our communities. So knowing that you’re helping them stay in business with all those fines might make ya feel better no?. Just think of it as donations, or tokens of appreciation for helping out soo many people who can’t afford or have the room for the endless books they like to read. I bet they secretly like it when you’re late n have to pay a fine. They’re usually nice to about it right? hehe.

    You’re a real positive source of support for your healthy communities!. Wear your ADHD badges proudly!. :-)

    Yep, that’s the ticket!

    Smile okay?


    Love your positive thinking Robbo. :)

    You may have a good point since the libraries in the UK are under threat of closure.

    I think I’d rather just give them a donation straight out – it saves the stress of hunting for the books, having to remember where they are, realising you’re one short and then having to dash out to the place only to find they’ve just closed …ops…..another day of fines…and it all starts again the next day.

    At least they’d be in the car then rather than in the house…. but then I’d have to remember to call in at the library the next night..and the next…..and the next….

    Except by then, junk will have been chucked in on top of the books and I’d forget they were there. Oh the pain….

    Yep, straight donation is much better.



    If you have children, use their card…. They dont get fined :-)


    Pete x


    Well I gave up on the library years ago! I

    I think there are some things we people with ADD just aren’t meant for! Imposing other people’s deadlines on ourselves is one of them.

    Unless returning library books becomes something that is personally relevant to you then you don’t have a hope in hell. Monetary fines are generally meaningless to us i believe. Sure, we don’t want to pay them anymore than the next person but I don’t think we have a concept of its relational meaning. I don’t like paying fines but I’m not exactly devastated after I pay it. As a matte of fact, I will have usually forgotten about it in a matter of minutes . I know I should be upset but I don’t actually feel the emotion. It’s really kind of sociopathic when i think about it :-)

    On the other hand, can you get your husband to return them on time? or perhaps just accept that the fines are part of the cost and stop feeling you have to comply ?

    Somewhere I have a post in one of the humour threads about taking a bag of un-returned library books to Europe by mistake because I thought it was my husband’s reading bag. Can’t find it though so del post a link if I ever do.

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