To limit or not to limit - that is the question. Having just come off the December holidays, almost survived Valentine's day (just...three...more...days, huff puff huff puff) and about to embark on the adventure of spring, St. Pat's Day and Easter day book rush time, talking about limits is swirling in my mind.
There are only a small number of titles available specific to any one holiday or season (alright, I'll cop to the fact that winter and Christmas books do seem to be in endless supply). These books languish on the shelves "between times" until the holiday season rolls around and then, "Boom!", the stampede for these titles is on. It's pretty much not a budgetary option for most public libraries to buy multiple, multiple copies or load up the collection with as many books on these subjects as can be unearthed.
So, though we love to fill requests and love to be as open as possible, the subject of limits comes up. Without limits, we create a “first come, first served” expectation rather than one where we try to provide some kind of consistent and fair way for many people to have a chance to enjoy very limited but high demand resources. Setting limits of a few books per family or group allows us to have more resources available for more people.
Of course it also means people will have to share with others. That may be the true "outer limits" nature of the beast. Limits can work with patience and gentle explanations to our customers (who sometimes want more, more, more). At least we hope so!