The Library, My Friend and Yours

Recently, I had a bit of snag with overdue book notices from my local library. Like the rest of civilization, the library must progress with the digital age. I’m not going to pick on the library. I love my library. I rely on my library.

As a kid, I went to the library with my mom often. It was part of our cheap fun. My two sisters and I were allowed to check out 10 books a piece, and my mother, an avid reader, checked out her own set. At $.05  a book per day, we could rack up some fines, and my mom recalls we often did just that.

The date stamp was imprinted on each book. If you wanted to know when a book was due, open the inside cover and there it was. No hassle. No remembering. Ah, yes, simplicity at its finest. The date stamp. I fear some of you may not even know what this is.

What you have now is an onion skin sheet of paper printed with a list of your books and the due date. All good and well if you can keep track of a thin scrap of paper. It usually gets lost inside of a book until, of course, the books are past due, or it’s thrown in my purse, the big black hole.

I pick up books for my sons on a regular basis, especially my six-year-old who only wants to read everything just once. Occasionally something is worth mentioning, named by title, or even considered for his permanent collection. “Mom, buy this one.” I keep checking out more and more books.

So, understandably, I get a pile of books each time. I usually scan them myself, even though the librarians look, well, a little lonely. I doubt that they don’t have enough to do. With all the budget cuts, hours have been cut as well. It’s hard to keep track of the new hours and, at my local library, Mondays are just simply closed all together.

Conveniently, I have an online library account, which for the first two years went to the wrong email address. My fault. But this didn’t help matters. I was in a darkness for a spell hoping I remembered when my library books were due, usually about a dozen or so books at once, a guess a far cry from my mother’s forty books that she had to keep track of. I knew they had a three-week check-out span, and I could more or less keep track of that. More or less.

If my son was finished with most of his books, but really just wanted to hear one story over and over, which didn’t happen often, I would return the other books except the one he fancied. This was confusing if I then later stopped by the library to pick up a few more books. You see, now I had books with two different due dates.

When I finally visited my online account and provided the correct email address, things were working like clockwork. The library gives a three-day notice to gather your books and return them. Things were working like clockwork I tell you until I received an overdue notice of books I had already turned in. Panic settled in momentarily. This must be a mistake? Was there a library thief awaiting with gloved hands as I dropped them into the book drop abyss? Was someone just dying to have my book on The Everything Guide to Social Media?

My next notice from the library was a list of books that were due in three days, Ellison the Elephant and Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent (I highly recommend this book).  Fine, but it didn’t list the other ten or so books I checked out. Whatever, I can assume they all due.  

So, they are promptly turned in and I go about my business checking out a new set of books using the lightning quick, efficient scanning machine. Even the very young want to have a crack at it, swiping to their heart’s delight. It’s not like the self-checkout at the grocery store, which is only convenient when buying no fruits or vegetables, and/or if you don’t have many groceries. I feel a sense of obligation to use it to move forward with technology. Can’t you see the capable scanner there? I But I wonder if the librarians miss the human interaction. There must be less of it, yes?

Still I hesitate. What about my late books? Will the scanner scream at me, “Your account is delinquent. Access denied.” Will I be in trouble? Will it resemble the airport late check-in? Since it is the library I think they would announce something like, “Your account requires attention. Please seek assistance from your nearest librarian.” Oh hell, the library is so dignified there is no voice, only quiet. They let you check out books even if your account is past due.

I racked up almost twenty bucks in late fines once when I was in my darkness period (the wrong email). When I checked it out with the librarian, he encouraged me, stating I only pay half of it on that day. I don’t even know what the fee is these days. I think 25 cents a book per day. I can’t find the information on their website.

I decided to check my online account. I guess I should get re-acquainted with it. Oh, I just owe a $1.50. fee; $1.25 for a special book with no renewal possible and $0.25 for a book from long ago.

My ever-forgiving, understanding library. No mention of the latest charges, missing, overdue books. I guess they will show up if necessary. The library relies on the honor system for your support. What would I do without you?

All is wants is for you to read. One of the last holdouts of civilization.

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4 thoughts on “The Library, My Friend and Yours

  1. My original goal out of college was to become a librarian. I still think about it and wonder if I could endure yet another Master’s program to achieve it. Libraries are wonderful…fines and all.

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  2. I loved the memories of my childhood that your ditty brought to my mind. My mom didn’t read a ton to us, but she always had us go to the library weekly. I think I first read “Mrs. Piggle Wiggle” and “The Boxcar Children” because of that musty smelling place. The library card has gone the way of the card catalog. I think I’ll start looking in the antique stores for old library cards and use them in scrapbooking and for postcards. Wouldn’t that be cool?

    As always, love you SIL-
    Emily

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