Going Paperless 2.0: Using Evernote to Track Library Book Due Dates

Some uses of Evernote are more humble than others. I was reminded of this over the weekend when Evernote reminded me that the Little Man’s library book was due on Tuesday.

I like keeping track of the books the kids check out from the library. I have my own list of books that I’ve read, but mine only goes back to my 20s, and I thought that one day, my kids might like to see the book they read when they were little. Here is how I keep track of them:

1. Snap a photo of the book into Evernote.

Sometimes I do this from within Evernote itself, other times, I just snap a photo from my phone camera and add it to the note in Evernote. It doesn’t have to be a high quality image.

Either way, I use the image to create a note in Evernote. I title the note with the title and author of the book.

2. Tag the note

One of the things for which I find tags particularly useful is associated a note with a family member. So I’ll tag the note with either my son’s name or my daughter’s name, depending on who checked out the book.

I also add a more general tag called “reading-list” so that I can easily call these notes out on a search. Here is what a typical note looks like:

Library book note

This was simple and straight-forward. If I wanted to find the list of books that they’d read, I could simply search for notes tagged with the name and “reading-list”, something like:

tag:reading-list tag:zach

Library book reminders

At some point, I realized that I could use Evernote’s reminder function to remind me to return the library books. On the notes in question, I’d set a reminder for a day or two before the books were due back at the library.

I use Sunrise Calendar because it takes calendars and reminders from many different sources and pulls them into a single calendar view. Sunrise Calendar can pull Evernote reminders onto the calendar, so that when I am looking at my calendar, I can see the reminders along with everything else. Between Evernote’s reminder, and seeing the reminder in Sunrise Calendar, I always know when to put the library books in my son’s or daughter’s backpack to take back to school.


When the kids come home with new books, the cycle starts over again.

The reminders have come in handy on a couple of occasions. And so has the list of books. The Little Man sometimes can’t remember which Magic Treehouse book he has or hasn’t read yet. We can pull up the list in Evernote the day before he goes to the library and review it so that he can pick out a new one.

And, of course, other books we read, besides library books, get added to the list as well, but the Evernote reminders are particularly handy for library book due dates.

If you have a suggestion for a future Going Paperless post, let me know. Send it to me at feedback [at] jamietoddrubin.com. As always, this post and all of my Going Paperless posts is also available on Pinterest.

Last week’s post:Quickly Access Frequently-Used Information in Evernote.

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  1. Hi,
    There is a service called http://libraryelf.com that we’ve been using for years. You basically put your library cards in the system and it keeps track of all the items you check out and when they’re due. It will send you emails to remind you when any of the items are due. (I will admit that my library system is a subscriber of the service and so I get some of the premium features–like multiple cards–for free.)

    The service supports a huge number of libraries and we’ve found it to be quite useful for keeping track of the status of all of our books, with no effort on our part.

  2. It’s a shame that Sunrise isn’t being developed anymore – the team behind that were acquired by Microsoft and are now developing Outlook for Android/iOS.


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