Every time I approach a library, I feel a bit like the quintessential sinner stepping over the threshold of a church. They don’t like my kind here, I think as I slink through the racks and search for picture books to take to work.
Alright, I’m just being dramatic. But I do have a long and occasionally challenging relationship with libraries. Growing up I lived maybe a mile from the closest library in the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library system, a situation my family and I took plenty advantage of over the years. I’d rush home from weekly/biweekly library trips with 6, 7, sometimes 12 heavy novels.
I grew up at the library in more than one way. I learned what sex was at the library, when I graduated from the small children’s section to the young adult section — where books were fatter, and therefore better, in my young mind. I was probably too young but it happened anyway, before Project Know could get to me.
My troubles at the library also began early, with a cursed book. More specifically, with a book that I couldn’t seem to stop losing – “The Landry News.” I was obsessed with author Andrew Clements and I was reading everything he’d written that I could get my hands on. I don’t know just how much I spent on library fines for “The Landry News,” but it was a lot. I took the book out three or four times, lost it for weeks on end, and had to buy at least one lost copy from the library when it had been lost for too long.
So basically my relationship growing up at the library can be summed up in two sentences. I love libraries. Libraries don’t love me.
Which brings me to today. Today I had to make two payments I wasn’t exactly looking forward to. The first was the initial payment of the auto loan for my adorable, red, low-mileage hatchback. The second, and far more shameful, payment I had to make was to pay off my library fines and fees so that I can use my local library system again. Oops!
Check out my shameful total:
Now, you may be thinking to yourself: “Hey Erynn, don’t be so hard on yourself. $23.39 isn’t all that bad.” But you’ll probably reconsider that opinion once you hear the sordid details.
How did I rack up such a ridiculous library debt? Did I take out 27 books at once and then promptly leave on a long vacation? Nope, not so much. All of my fees were incurred for a single novel that I DIDN’T EVEN LIKE.
Racking up $23.39 in fines and fees on a single book for which the late charge is $.25 (at least while the book is just late, not seriously delinquent) takes some time. But it’s relatively easy to do when your husband accidentally slips it onto your bookshelves.
Learn from my mistakes. Be kind to your libraries, people.