When I return a book I put it in a bin, and a (non-Jewish) worker later takes it from the bin, and scans it into the computer as "returned." As such, can I return a library book on Shabbat?

  • Library books are muktzeh.
    – Tatpurusha
    Apr 20 '14 at 23:49
  • 4
    @Tatpurusha when, and why?
    – Scimonster
    Apr 22 '14 at 8:53
  • Perhaps Hachana may be a problem? Or Uvdin Dechol?
    – Double AA
    Apr 23 '14 at 3:19
  • @Scimonster Well, according to some opinions, one may not open a library book on the Sabbath because there are words printed on the sides. I shouldn't have written that library books are definitely mukzeh, because they aren't, but if you hold that you can't open a library book, then a library book is also muktzeh because it has no valid shabbos use. chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/757573/jewish/…
    – Tatpurusha
    Apr 23 '14 at 7:48
  • Books(4) - Most poskim maintain that it is permitted to open and close books which have words stamped on their edges, as is commonly found in library books. The basic halachah conforms to their opinion(5). In deference to the minority view, however, it is proper not to use such books when others are available(6). torah.org/advanced/weekly-halacha/5761/kisavo.html
    – Shmuel
    Apr 24 '14 at 0:54

Assuming that you know 100% a non-Jew will be on duty, and assuming that scanning books is forbidden on Shabbat.

I think it would depend:

  • If you have to have the book returned by Shabbat - or else incur a fine - then you are essentially asking the non-Jew to process your book now.
    Asking, hinting or otherwise getting a non-Jew to do work for you on Shabbat is forbidden.

  • If you couldn't care less if the book is marked as returned on Shabbat, or on the next working-day, then you are not asking the non-Jew to work for you on Shabbat.
    Unless the non-Jew will get into some trouble for not processing your book immediately, there shouldn't be a problem returning the book.

That said, it sure doesn't seem Shabbas-dik to be returning books on Shabbat.

  • 3
    I think we can assume that the library picks up whatever books happen to be in the book drop, and the worker checks the drop a few times during the day. So, he is not specifically processing YOUR book and doing the work specifically for you. Since this is part of his job, it shouldn't matter and should be OK.
    – Dan
    Apr 24 '14 at 15:25

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