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Posts Tagged ‘library fine’

I’ve always loved public libraries. I remember going as a child. I’d check out a hefty stack of books and proudly carry them to the desk, check them out on my own card, then carry them to the car. I’d read all the way home and would usually have 3 or 4 books finished by the time we got there. By the end of the day, I would have finished my whole stack. I’d be ready to go back the next day, but I’d have to wait until the next week. While I waited, I’d read them again and again. 

During my junior high and high school years, we lived in a rural area. When we made trips “into town”, we didn’t make it to the library because it wasn’t the part of town we were going to. I resorted to buying my own books (and bags of mixed nuts from Morrow’s Nut House) at the mall with my allowance. During the school year, I’d get books from the school library. My senior year, I spent one of my free hours working in the library. It wasn’t a terribly busy place, so I spent a lot of time lining up the books with the edges of the shelves. Sound boring? Not for someone like me! I loved being able to see all the books the library had. I was introduced to many contemporary authors that way: Robin Cook, Victoria Holt, and others. 

I didn’t have much time for reading for pleasure when I was in college, but I did work in the campus library. I worked in the back and helped process the new books that came in. Whenever my department was slow or my supervisor was out, I got to work with other departments. I don’t know why I didn’t think to pursue a degree in library science…

At some point in my adult life, I rediscovered the public library. I know one was in the downtown area, and I didn’t like going to it. I feel almost certain that I visited a different local branch, but I can’t recall it. On the other hand, I do remember countless visits to Books-A-Million…

When we moved to the Dallas area, I sought out several libraries in the cities surrounding us. I still have (expired) library cards from larger cities and smaller towns on the north and east sides of the Metroplex. I’d take the boys weekly for story time and more often in the summer when their special programs were in full force. As they got older and I homeschooled them, we joined a wonderful kids’ book club that our 4-H leader led. I read with them as well as on my own. 

The boys are enrolled in a small Christian school now. They don’t have as much time for reading for pleasure during the school year, but during the summers I make sure they have something to spend time reading each day. But we still visit the library frequently during the school year. Each trimester the high school students must write a lengthy research paper. (Yes, that’s three research papers each school year; twelve during their high school career.) In the search for resources, we visit the library and check out obscure books (for difficult historical and literary topics).

Caleb’s winter trimester research paper was on slavery and the 13th Amendment. We checked out six books, which he kept in a stack on his desk when he wasn’t using them. Once he had turned in his paper and he knew he wouldn’t need to refer to the books for anything, he brought all six downstairs and put them on the table. I put them in a crate in the trunk of my car. A few days later I stopped off at the library and put the books in the book drop since they were closed. One, two, three, four, five, six. Later that week when I checked my account online, records showed one of the books hadn’t been turned in. I knew better, but I thought maybe they were just slow in processing them. Not long after that, I got my regular email notification that my books would be coming due in a few days. That book was still listed as being checked out to me. I was busy, and I had time to renew it and deal with it later, so I did. And again. And again.

I stopped off at the library a few weeks ago to finally check on what to do about it. The lady at the circulation desk requested and shelf check for the book at all four branches. She told me to watch my account. If they found the book, they would take it off my account; otherwise I would be responsible for it.

Last week, I got another email notification about a book coming due. It hadn’t been found and was still on my account, so I stopped by on Saturday afternoon to follow up on it. I talked to a different lady at the circulation desk (on purpose). She checked my account again and said a shelf check showed the book had not been found. I had to pay for it. I told her that I knew I had returned it and that I had put it in the book drop on the side of the building; unfortunately there was no way I could prove it.  I wanted them to check around the book drop area just in case it had gotten lodged somewhere. (It was a really thick book.) But no. I could pay it or lose my library privileges when the final renewal ran out in three weeks. 

I sighed, loudly unzipped my wallet, and tossed down $32 cash and two quarters. While the clerk painstakingly wrote out my receipt, I debated whether I wanted to check out the books I had chosen. I muttered, “Well, I won’t be using the book drop anymore.” She ignored me and continued writing the receipt. Then she handed it to me along with my new printout of books I had checked out. I was tempted to stick those books in the book return window as I walked past, but I kept them.

Still, it would be easier to just download ebooks and let them automatically be removed from my device when time is up. As much as I still enjoy the feel of an actual book in my hands (which I think I blogged about long ago), it’s not worth the headache if I have to deal with the library losing books that are in my name. 

Then again, if this is the only bad experience I’ve had in the nearly 13 years I’ve been using that particular library, the odds are pretty good it won’t happen again. The whole experience just leaves a bad taste in my mouth, though. I don’t want to take the risk.

I will continue to check out books from there, but I will not use the outside book drop anymore. I’ll make the library trips only during operating hours. It’s really not that inconvenient. It’s only five minutes from home and from work. But if it happens again, I really will have to come up with another option. 

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