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A Love Letter to the Library Hold System

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Danielle Bourgon

Staff Writer

Danielle is an educator, theatre artist, and book lover from Toronto, Ontario. She acknowledges that this is the traditional territory of the Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee, and most recently, the territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit where she is grateful to live and work. When she’s not drinking tea and reading on the couch, she’s recommending books to her students, friends, and family. She’s a feminist, a nerd, and a baker. Oh. And she has Hogwarts tattooed on her arm.

Over the past few months I have been taking even more advantage of the hold system at my local library. It’s prompted a lot of conversation with my husband and friends about how many books is it responsible to put on hold and how do we use or not use this system effectively. Last year, Jen Sherman wrote a lovely love letter to public libraries and Lucas Maxwell compiled some incredible letters from authors to their libraries. Liberty Hardy has even started to write incredible round up posts, like this one for April, of books to add to your hold list. Still, I felt like given how frequently I avail myself of this service and how much it has given to my life it was important to give it something back. So here is my love letter to the library hold system.

A Love Letter to the Library Hold System |

Photo by Tom Hermans

Dear Library Hold System,

I have been a friend of yours ever since my days as a misunderstood small-town teen. When I would order books from the big city that were unavailable in my hometown, either due to subject matter or lack of funds. You are how I was able to expand my world view. You burst my bubble and helped me to see past Friday night basketball games.

In university you helped me access even deeper knowledges of the world. Let’s face it, you also enabled the laziness of my early 20s. No longer did I need to walk ALL the way across campus to get books from the history library. In my head I justified this as a way to enable more time for deeper thinking. In essence it allowed more Netflix binging. Still, without your friendship I would have never learned about the historic female warriors of Scotland and how their depictions in historical texts influenced Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

As an adult who had burned out completing my degrees back to back, you helped me rediscover my love of reading by not judging me for what I asked you to help me find. You brought to me endless YA romances and other cosy reads that restored my soul and reminded me of my love of reading, pre-scholarly work. This period of time was also one of over-employment, and having these works be so conveniently sent to my local branch meant that I was able to read more and more ferociously. Helping to reignite that special reading flame within me.

Now, as a library super-friend, I ask of you daily. I ask you to bring me: audiobooks about race relations in North America, comics about the adventures of The Lumberjanes, and the science-fiction works that fill me with hope and dread simultaneously. My newest library hold system friend even allows me to do this without limits or penalties. With every book you bring into my world you help me to become a better reader, friend, ally, wife, and human being.

I hope that you don’t feel this relationship is one-sided. I like to think that my incessant asks of you result in others seeing your value and perhaps in you getting an increase in visibility and funding. However, I also know that I don’t show you enough gratitude so here it is. Thank you so so much for everything you have given to me over the years. I firmly believe that without you my reading life would be less rich and as such my life in the “real world” would be less vivid, imaginative, and fulfilling.


Danielle Bourgon