Patrons at the Durham County Library may have noticed a recent change — the library has replaced the 15,000 plastic bags it uses each year with 2,000 sturdy navy blue reusable totes.

The tote bags may be checked out along with books, and may be renewed an unlimited number of times, said Gina Rozier, marketing and development manager. Customers seem to like them, she said.

“They’re going so well, I need to order more,” she said. The totes cost $3,000, about the same for the annual supply of 15,000 plastic bags, Rozier said. But as the library reuses the totes over the next few years, the library hopes to see a cost savings.

Losing a bag will result in a $5 fee for the card holder, and late fees also apply at the regular 25-cents-a-day rate, but because the bags can be renewed repeatedly, few cardholders are likely to incur fines, Rozier said.

Patrons without library cards won’t be able to check one out, so they’ll either have to bring a bag or apply for a card. But anyone struggling with an armful of books, CDs, DVDs and other materials will happily find the totes hold a lot more stuff, in addition to being better for the environment in the long haul.