Why I’ll Never Check Out Another Library Book As Long As I Live
I’m a wee bit fired up. (translation = mad as hell-o)
Right now, in this very moment… I am equal parts heartbroken and livid, at the same time.
I am a longtime book lover and library user. I’ve loved reading for as long as I can remember. Reading is a luxury and an indulgence for me. A treat, a reward.. even an escape of sorts, I love the pure letting-go as I clear my mind and live however monetarily, within the pages.
I’ll read just about anything and my appetite is voracious once I turn the first page, often reading a book in one sitting even if that means staying up until the wee hours. Book hangover be damned. Closing it before I find out “what happens”, to me, is like turning off a movie before it’s over.
Several weeks ago, while in the market, I picked up The Maze Runner. This was a splurge, as I usually get all my books from the library. When you read them in one sitting, the habit gets very expensive. I started borrowing instead of buying many years ago. Out of curiosity, I tallied up the MSRP over the course of a calendar year once, and what I had checked out was almost the equivalent of our property tax payment.
Anyhow, after I read The Maze Runner, I put in a request for the next book in the series. My local branch didn’t have it but they put in a request to get it from a neighboring library. When I called to find out if it was in, I was told I had a damaged book fee, from a title I had checked out and returned months before.
What? There must be some mistake. I know I didn’t damage a book that was in my care. And I’m thinking; “What kind of damage are we talking about, and why wasn’t I notified?”
I read quietly, mostly in bed. I don’t eat or drink when I read. I don’t read in the tub. My books stay right here, in my home.
I do not damage books.
I do not dog-ear pages.
I treat books with reverence.
I was told that usually they call or a letter is mailed immediately, and that they didn’t know what happened or why I wasn’t notified. (well then, I don’t know what happened to your book!) The thing is, this was weeks and weeks and weeks after I turned it in. How do I know what happened to it after that?! I sure as hell(o) know that I did not damage a book!
Well.. I could swear that up one side and down the other and it really doesn’t mater. As far as they are concerned, I’m guilty. I went in to discuss it today. In an calm, adult manner. While I stuck to this plan, it didn’t get me far, because the woman I dealt with had the warmth and charm of a stone. Her facial expression was as dead as her eyes. My good standing, and never having damaged a book, as well as not being notified and it being a substantial amount of time between me returning the book and this damage being reported, (after I investigated!) did me no good. My questions and comments were met with silence. I was basically having a conversation with myself.
Knowing that I had no recourse… how was I going to prove I did not do it? I couldn’t, and I’m not going to be getting into a battle with the damn library, over $27.00 and I also wanted to avoid being sent to collections over something so trivial, I told her I’d pay the fee. Oh by the way… cash or check only. No debit or credit cards accepted. On a side-note, could we possibly move into THIS century? Thankfully, I had just enough cash on me so that I wouldn’t have to go back. (returning would not be a good idea, because my patience and temper were just holding as it was)
I could feel the tears welling up and my voice crack when I slid her my library card and let her know I would no longer need it, as I’d never be checking out another book again. Not that she could give two figs… we are talking about stone-face lady here. How could I check out library materials after this? My sense of security in knowing I could borrow and return a book was completely shattered. Gone. Would my next returned book be called damaged? What if I got a book and it was “damaged” and I didn’t notice until I got it home? Would I need to check every single page for a mar, mark, stain or tear before I accepted it?
The whole experience is just ruined for me. An experience I loved. Getting a new book was something I really, really looked forward to. Reading was a gift I allowed myself. Something just for me.
I am heartbroken.
This might sound silly to you, but I’m terribly upset and I feel like my character, and my responsible nature received a bad mark over this mater. It’s hard… I’m strong and I’m feisty, and there is a part of me that wants to fight! A lot.
I’m sensitive too though. I’ve touched on this before… but I fought my fight when I had cancer and I just simply do not want to battle over crap like this. Especially when I know there is really nothing that is going to be done. It’s a he-said she-said, and I’m only one person. As it is, this will bother me for a long time. I hope sharing this will help me let it go, by being vocal and venting.
Has anything like this happened to you and made you feel so… upset and vulnerable? I hope not!
Love & hugs, Shannon
PS: Oh, and this is the “damage”.
( insert big finger wave here – that was sure as heck not done my ME. )
The last four pages are very, very slightly rippled in a small spot, from something liquid. Two of which, have no text on them!! For all I know, it was damaged IN the book depository after I put it in the slot to return it. The books are slipped into a large slot and all piled up in a huge bin, and it rains here so much. The probability of something getting thrown into the slot in its location, or wet books being returned, and piled on top of books being returned in perfect condition, is highly probable. Honestly, the book was more than likely like this, when I got it!! I wouldn’t have given it a second thought.
Of course, I was delightfully and oh so condescendingly told, “we don’t loan materials in this condition“. Well yeah… ya do. Probably. lol. Right about now is when I wish I had a time machine. I’d love to know the story on this one.
*Note to self. DIY a time machine. Why haven’t I done that already anyhow?
Some people really should not work with the public! And seriously? Tell me this book was the worst “damage” she’d ever seen? You’d think it was… well, I’m not going to elaborate, but I’m sure there are a million worse scenarios of book damage.
UPDATE: as of January 2021 I have not stepped foot in, nor borrowed any materials from a library. And that’s really a sad thing…
UPDATE, on the update (haha): It’s now January 2023, and still holding strong. I buy real books on occasion, but I read on my kindle 99% of the time. Found out you can “check out” digital materials (e-books and audio books) through the library and other sites, and briefly considered getting a card at the town over, but ultimately decided to continue as-is. The bad experience still lingers. So sad.