Over the last couple weeks I have fallen in love with the public library again. As a kid, it was one of my favorite places. I loved being surrounded by books and able to sit in peace and learn. Over my daughter’s Easter vacation I suggested we head to the library to check out books, go to storytime etc. This was not the first time we had been, but since the last time (about 2 years ago) was such a horrible experience that I was sure the librarians had posted pictures of my kids on the library doors forbidding their entrance, I was hesitant to return. I have to admit that the last time I spent any significant time in a library was when there was a card catalog, so seriously, I was a bit lost. My daughter is growing in her reading ability and i hoped that the opportunity to find new books would encourage her. It did and over her vacation we visited a few times and came home with a boatload of books and sat on the couch for extensive storytimes. She and my son were even able to earn free In-N-Out Burgers for reading books. My daugher signed up for the “read to dogs” program as well; I thought that was a totally weird concept, but she loved sitting with companion dogs and reading her new books.
The whole experience made me wonder why I had stayed away. Why had childhood “happy place” gone unvisited for so many years? Aside from the fact that librarians are an incredibly strange breed, there had to be something more.
Well, vacation was over, so our trips to the library had all but ended, except for my returning the 25 or so books we had checked out. Today was the beginning of a very long and hot summer, and as there was little to do, we headed back. The kids picked out a stack of books and I got the first of the Harry Potter series for myself. As I went to check out the books, I was hit with a disturbing reminder of why I stopped going to libraries. I was informed that I owed $13 in late charges for the huge stack my kids had checked out and I had failed to return in time. AHHHH! My mother looked at the librarian and informed them that I was no stranger to library fines and sarcastically declared that I had all but funded the west wing addition of our local library as a kid with my late fees. Brutal, brutal reminder of many wasted pennies.
I understand that they want their books back, I have no intention of keeping them forever, but why fine me? It only makes me not want to go back. It took a few hours for me to shake the “late fee gloom” that encompassed me, but I want to be a decent member of society, so I am determined to return my books on time. I am wondering if I should keep a Bridget Jones type of diary with daily entries:
lost 2 pounds (v.good), no cigarettes, no alcohol (v.v.g), 10 overdue book (v.v.poor)
At any rate, I will not be frightened away – I will conquer and am determined to get them back on time or if I run the risk of commiting the unpardonable sin of having them overdue, I will renew them via the Internet so that the local librarians won’t get their panties in a bunch (visions of librarian from Seinfeld).