IF you tap your neighbour in the library on the shoulder and ask "What are you reading?", chances are they'll lift up their book and show you the cover of Second Honeymoon.
The thriller by James Patterson and Howard Roughan is currently the most-borrowed book at Castle Hill Library and is in the Rapid Reads collection, so it can only be taken out for seven days instead of three weeks.
"It was borrowed 12 times in 12 weeks, indicating that as soon as it was returned it was borrowed again," Brenda Barrett, the library's senior customer services co-ordinator, said.
Ms Barrett said items on rapid loan also cannot be reserved.
That was the idea behind the collection, which was introduced about 18 months ago — to keep the latest best-sellers in rapid circulation.
And boy do we like borrowing . . . best-sellers and everything else.
A staggering 1.453 million items — print and electronic — were borrowed across The Hills' five library branches in 2011/12 — the fourth-highest number of loans of any NSW service.
The areas that beat us all had bigger populations.
Castle Hill has an e-library which is available 24 hours a day and contains e-books, audio books for download and — since July — e-magazines.
These have proven very popular with nearly 7000 items already borrowed.
"The role of libraries is constantly evolving, with a trend towards libraries as 'enablers', showing people how to connect and engage with new technologies, and libraries as places/spaces for social connection," Ms Barrett said.
In Castle Hill Library people gather in the cafe and you are more likely to find library staff in the aisles, thanks to a returns machine that automatically sorts the returned books.
Ms Barrett said The Hills library service was the first in Australia with self-serve checkouts.
"We beat Adelaide by a week," she said.
New check-outs, to be installed later this month in all branch libraries, would also allow people to pay their overdue fees.
1.453 million number of loans across The Hills’ five library branches in 2011/12
6.94 the average turnover of loans for every library item for that period — the second-highest turnover in NSW
5 branch libraries in The Hills
■ What have you borrowed lately?