Monday, April 27, 2015

The Tale of the Missing Library Book

Long before Goodreads existed, I remember keeping track of every book I read each summer and earning rewards each time I turned in the list at the local public library. I loved books then as a kid and I love them now as an adult. There are books everywhere in my house – yes, I prefer they live on bookshelves, but, well, kids …

Speaking of kids, mine love books.

My daughter reads so fast that when she first started devouring chapter books, I would ask her many questions about the plot. I wanted to make sure she was really reading. But she always answers my questions with great detail.

I didn’t know if Ben would love books because it took him longer to sit still to listen to a whole book while we read and held him in our laps. But he likes books too. He doesn’t read yet, but he remembers pictures and stories from the books we read to him.

One of my favorite scenes of motherhood happens when I’m cooking: The kids sit on the couch together and Ben lets Cate read to him. Perhaps I should say, Cate chooses to read to him. It depends on the day, you know, but when this happens my heart melts.

So, obviously, we like books around here. That means sometimes we go to the library.

But, really, the public library isn’t my favorite place. That’s a mom confession right there for you.

I’m sorry if this disappoints you, coming from a writer and a reader. But it’s true. And I’m not sure when I started not liking the library, although the public library of my current life is not the one I grew up going to.

I’m a first-born, rule-follower to a fault. But our library has too many rules – about story time and summer reading and missing library books. And the rule-enforcers – oh, well, most anyone who works at our library – don’t really seem to enjoy their jobs.

So that boy of mine lost a library book. For a while, we searched for it. {In hindsight, I should have renewed it over the phone during that time in case we did in fact find it.} But we didn’t find it. Ben even started saying he thinks he left it somewhere, maybe the doctor’s office. He did tote it around, which as a reader makes me happy but as a boy mom makes me nervous.

A few weeks later when I realized “Emmet's Awesome Day” was officially lost and nobody at the doctor’s office or wherever else Ben possibly left the book returned it for us, I went to the library and confessed I owed them some money for the missing book.

I knew I was going to overpaying for a book that could be replaced. I knew we were responsible for not returning what we borrowed. But I took my kids, money and confession to the library desk.

Turns out, the library worker wouldn’t take my money or tell me what I owed. Apparently only two people who worked there could handle said transaction. And they weren’t there.

So we left. I’m sure my girl had an arm-full of Boxcar Children Mysteries. I know Ben didn’t have any books because, well, his account was in poor standing for the moment, you know, because they wouldn’t take my money.

Really, what kind of government entity won’t take a citizen’s money?

I decided to order a copy of “Emmet's Awesome Day” from Amazon. In fact, I was able to order the library binding edition. For $12.19. When this arrived two days later, I went back to the library and told a different worker that I bought it to replace the one my son lost.

She said she couldn’t take it because that wasn’t the process to acquire new books. Y’all, it was exactly the same as the one we lost. Well, actually, it was nicer because it was newer. They just needed to slap some barcodes on the hard cover.

“I can see if the acquisitions librarian can tell you about the process,” the library worker offered.

“No, if you won’t take the book it doesn’t matter. Can you tell me what I owe?” I said.

Without hesitation, she quickly told me I owed $22.96 – even though she wasn’t one of the two people previously mentioned as having high enough clearance to disclose my required fine and take my money. Yet she told me and took my cash anyway.

And then she told me to hold on while she made a copy of the receipt she’d just written by hand on a carbon receipt pad. Y’ALL, SHE MADE A COPY OF A RECEIPT THAT HAD A CARBON COPY.

The public library that already wasn’t my favorite place became an even less desirable place. Oh, now Ben also has a new copy of “Emmet's Awesome Day” and if we happen to find the missing copy we get to keep that one too.

Great, because, well, we do like books and that’s one less we have to check out of the library.

I'm linking this post with Mary Carver's Works for Me Wednesday because, ironically, the public library doesn't really work well for me but books most certainly do and with Anna Rendell's Mom Confessions

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  1. Ugh. I have a like/hate relationship with the library. I've started driving out of my way to another branch that has friendlier librarians and where my kids can be a little loud. I HATE having to keep up with library books and videos. We've had to pay for lost books, but it was only a few bucks thankfully. I prefer buying books and then my mind is clear of worry, but then we lose some of the wonder of finding new books.

  2. KristinHillTaylor4/29/2015 10:06 AM

    I'm glad I'm not the only one with a love-hate relationship with the library. I just wish our library was friendlier and more welcoming. We keep going because my girl loves it so much. There is a nicer, friendlier library near the kids' school so we do go there sometimes too. Thanks for coming by, Amanda!

  3. My book-loving, writers heart, library confession? I've taken my child ONE TIME. I am just too skittish! Books! Quiet! Aisles to run in! And then, when you get the books home, what if they tear and destroy or lose them? I know. It's ridiculous. I need to take them to the library. Maybe I'll get brave soon. We'll see. ;)

  4. KristinHillTaylor4/30/2015 8:01 AM

    I went to the library some for a weekly story time when Cate was a toddler. And then Ben was born and I didn't go the library for a long time. Taking two in there seemed totally overwhelming, especially when the younger of the two was restless and loud. Now, they both like to go for different reasons (she like to load her arms with books and he likes to play the computer games ...) but all the many rules overwhelm me. And you're totally not ridiculous.