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Monday, November 16, 2009

Fugitive in the library

When I was growing up, we lived within walking distance of the library. From the time I was 11 years old or so, I would walk to the library by myself and walk back home with six or eight or 12 books. Sadly, my kids don't have that option.

Besides the fact that it's a different world now and I'd be too nervous to let my kids go that far by themselves, we live too dang far from the library. Our town has a b-e-a-utiful library and the kids do like going there. But it's easily 20 minutes from our house in a direction we rarely go. Consequently, we are not frequenters of the library.

Every few years I decide that I'm gonna change that. So I pile the kids in the car (after everyone goes to the bathroom and gets a snack for the big trek) and we head to the library. They play on the computers, sit under the spinning tree in the children's section, and choose books to take home with us. We check out and I promise myself that we'll be back in three weeks to return the books and repeat the whole process.

Then life intervenes and soccer practice or occupational therapy or gymnastics take precedence over a trek back to the library. Soon enough our books are a week late. Then a few weeks late. Then a month. Then, shamefully, much more.

Which brings me to tonight. Annie came home and announced she needed actual book and periodical sources for her research project, not just internet resources. I had no choice. We had to go to the library. Before we left, I recalled that the last time we'd been to the library was for Charlie's research project...LAST SCHOOL YEAR. And we still had books that we'd borrowed. (Insert red-faced emoticon here...)

So after dinner, Annie and I headed to the library. We dropped the way-overdue library books from our last visit in the book return outside. Then I walked in -- fully prepared for the electronic security posts to blare "Fugitive! Fugitive! This lady owes big fines!" as I crossed the threshhold.

Whew...safe! We made it to the second floor reference department undetected.

A very helpful librarian guided us to the Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine for Annie's research on pH in soda and its effects on calcium in the body. Then he showed us the computers where we could search for an article in a periodical. After a few minutes of searching, Annie found a Wall Street Journal article that fit the bill. She wanted to print it out.

"Prints are 10 cents a page," says Mr. Helpful.

"Okey doke. Do I pay you?"

"No. Do you have a library card?"

BUSTED! Here's where I was goin' down for being on the run from library fines. I fumbled for my library card and was relieved when I couldn't find it. Safe.

"That's ok. You can get a visitor pass." Crap. Will that involve showing ID that will give away my secret, I wondered. Not to worry. Getting a visitor pass was as simple as pushing a button on a computer screen. Out popped my little visitor slip and instructions to add change to the machine so we could print Annie's article.

As we finished up Annie's research, still unidentified as a fugitive library offender, I promised myself we'd be back soon to pay our fines (I might need to take out a small loan!) and take advantage of all the great things our library has to offer.

Hmmm...that seems like a story I've heard before.

4 comments:

Shauna said...

I love the library. A lot of times I can read two books a week, but we can't afford to buy books all the time. I've always lived within walking distance from a library, and right now we live 1km away. But they're closing for over a year to do construction, plus they are making it smaller (it is already so small that I have to do interlibrary loans). So now I have to take the bus half an hour each way to get to the main branch library. I probably won't get there as much. hopefully, though, I don't have any overdue books! ;)

Michelle said...

We LIVE at the library. We are homeschoolers and know all the librarians (or almost ALL) by name! The good news for you is that many libraries LIMIT the total your fine can reach, as long as you return the books (I think ours is $10 per card-- a friend of mine has 4 kids plus her own card that were maxed out though!). And sometimes our library does "food for fines," so keep an eye out for that!

Eternal Lizdom said...

Oh, Amy!! You crack me up!! I had a HUGE fine at one point in time back in Cincinnati... I'm pretty sure I paid it off before I fled the state... uh, I mean... moved away...

Shelley said...

LOL!! Did you read my blog post about being in line at the library beside some guy who owed a $400 fine?

I was SHOCKED, I tell you. Shocked!

And now I'm even MORE SHOCKED!

(I am HORRIBLE about returning library books on time. Just....a complete loser. I've probably helped the library build that extra wing.)