December 14, 2009

Lost Library Books

School libraries are magical places filled with bookshelves overflowing with unexplored treasures.

My children are seemingly blind to these riches, as evidenced by the fact that they spend their library time searching out books that we already own.

"Look!" said Cortlen in stunned amazement as he retrieved a copy of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs from his backpack. "The library has the same book as us!"

"That's crazy!" I replied.

"I got The Cat in the Hat!" screamed Kellen, holding up an equally unfamiliar text. Not surprisingly, my daughter came home later that afternoon with the library's second copy of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.
"Next time, why don't you guys choose books that we don't already have?" I suggested.

The minute that I offered up this suggestion, I remembered that it was irrelevant. My children never actually read any of the library books that they bring home from school. The purpose of checking out library books (other than to marvel at the existence of duplicate copies) is to ruin my life. This happens when books are left unattended on the kitchen counter long enough for someone to spill something on them, or when they are inadvertently stashed away in secret places until I receive emails like this:

Dear Parent,

The following item is overdue. Please return it as soon as possible to avoid being charged a book replacement fee:

LIBRARY MATERIALS

Due: 10/8/2009
"The great Waldo search"
Call #: F HAN
Barcode: S 6d6236
Price: $14.95

Normally emails like this generate a frantic search through my house. In this case, such an exercise was unnecessary. Just after Thanksgiving, I dropped a bunch of books into the donation bin at my local Salvation Army. Both of our copies of The Great Waldo Search were among them.

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Any similar tales of library mishaps?

39 comments

Sarah said...

this post is funny!

Becky said...

My daughter continues to check out the same few titles which she never reads but just likes to have familiar books lying around. I have turned school library books in to the public library drop off more times than I can count. We're book disfunctional!

Kelli said...

Oh my! I feel for you! I am grateful that my kids love to read, but I do confess that the fact that we love books seems to make us want to hold on to them for long periods of time. Longer than the library actually allows without renewing them, in fact. I'd love to have back every dime I've ever paid in library fines. I'd venture to say I'd be able to stock my own library pretty well!

Hillori said...

It seems that the amount of money I spend on library fines, I could buy the entire libray with---and why is it that they check out books not on their reading level? Either 600 page books, so that they can simply flip through the pages fast, or picture books, to trace the pictures?! They are good readers, but WHY do we pay for THIS?! You have a magical way of making us all relate and laugh--thank-you!

Viv said...

I'll let you in a secret that works for me. It doesn't matter if it is the school library or the public library, offer up a $100 bill to pay the fines. They never have change, and they will waive them.

I used to be a good citizen, I used to fork out the $15 fine for the $8 paperback, then I had six kids...

MamaOtwins+1 said...

I once asked my son why he checked out books we already have - his answer "This book is cooler"
Apparently the stamped due by section in the back makes or breaks a book

beangirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beangirl said...

Ah yes. The Magical Duplicate Copy. I mean, did you know they actually print more than one copy of a book? Astonishing.

Last year I did the following. All on the same day. Which maybe makes it slightly better or maybe not:

1) Dropped the school library books in the public library bin.
2) Dropped the public library books in the mailbox outside the post office.
3) Wondered why my daughter didn't have her school library books returns on time and our bills were in her backpack.

Seriously.

Anonymous said...

I just found two public library books under the front seat of my minivan....the only problem is that neither of my children checked them out, so I don't know where or who they came from????

Liesl said...

My oldest son - a junior in high school - lost two library books over a period of three months. Oh, how I wish whoever found them had driven a few minutes out of their way to return them! My husband insists that the book he misplaced over a year ago has to be in the house somewhere.

Diane said...

That is exactly my life too. My kindergartner brought home a book we already have right after I finally paid for a lost book.

Jen@Scrapingirl said...

Being as we homeschool, I have a bucket in the living room that the books belong. You can only read those books in the living room. They are not allowed in their rooms. They have bookshelves in their rooms for bed reading.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I just want to say that my library fees alone probably fund the entire staff of my local library. I currently have 46 books checked out and I think I know where half of them are.

This could have something to do with my "frugal" plan to request all the books in the kids book orders so that I don't have to buy any.

shannon said...

Although we have the best of intentions, I have decided we don't borrow library, we rent them!

Deanne said...

In our school, the process of checking out the books is somehow electronic, so there is never a stamped date in the books. Without the stamped date, I have argued that I cannot be held responsible for getting the books returned on time.

Thus, my children have stopped bringing the books home and instead they have decided to leave them in their desks. They probably have a a better chance of being read at school anyway!

AlsoMean said...

I got the notice about the "very overdue book" from the school.
I searched high and low for about 2 wk. Finally stopped by the library to pay for the book - a $40 Star Wars pop up book. Sigh.
Librarian looks up my son's account.
"No you don't own anything, no books are checked out".
I do not know what power in the universe made this possible, but I respect and honor it greatly.

Emily Hill said...

Though we don't check out duplicate copies of books we already own, we have replaced many a lost library book only to find it a couple months later. And we're big fans of "supporting" our local library through many dollars spent in overdue fees!

Janille said...

I've found that the phrase "You find it or you pay for it" works rather well for school library books. I am in charge of public library books. It works well.

And, I have to go backpack diving occasionally to find out if there is an overdue book notice in there somewhere.

Emz said...

Love it.

My daughter is known to drop them in the tub. $20 + $20 + $35 [I wish I was joking.]

why have I not enforced a "no books in the bath tub rule?" I like do donate to the city. I didn't feel 25% of my pay check was enough.

Emmy said...

I have had books disappear a few times recently. I even went as far as taking all of the books off of the kids shelves to make sure it wasn't there. As far as I was concerned it was gone. Then one day my two-year-old was laying on the floor throwing a fit... from her vantage point she saw something, reached under the couch and there was the missing book! I swear I looked there. Now she talks about the book she found when she was crying.

Nora Ray said...

My daughter had a school library book disappear in 2nd grade. After several fruitless searches, I paid for it. Four years later, as we packed up to move across country, guess what showed up. I had her return it before we left but they didn't offer to refund my money.

renee said...

LOL, well not about my kids (as the oldest is only in prek), but me personally yes. i went to get a library card at the county library not long ago and they denied me (which was confusing, since they didn't do a credit check first...) aaaanywho, they told me it was due to a missing library book of mine from 1992...yah. i said, well, i'm pretty sure i'm not going to find it now. she said well the fine is over $100. i said, can't i just replace the book? she said "no actually it's out of print" i said, "well then no thank you, i dont need to read again for the rest of my life"...and so i started a blog. true story.

andrewsjourney said...

Library books are the only books that the 2 year little brother likes to destroy. He will pass by books on the bookshelf and the books we own lying on the floor to search for the one library book. Talk about a search and destroy mission. Try explaining to a teacher why your child is not allowed to bring home books. That is such a fun note to write and is usually how I end up having that first one on one conversation every year.

ohwendyis said...

how timely. Just informed my husband today that the kids are no longer allowed to check out library books (unless for an actual assignment). This breaks my heart and makes me feel like a bad parents. I so love to read. My 9 year old loves to lay in bed with me while we each read our book. Can I make an exception for her without being guilty of playing favorites?

Amy in Arizona said...

Too funny! My kids completely bypass the books and go to the DVD section. For them going to the library is getting a movie. So sad!! I guess I should do something about that, but we would probably lose the library books too!

Ande said...

YES! All through out my elementary school years they fined me like 5 times for a book that I had returned! I ended up getting to keep the book!!!!!!!!

Carson Clan said...

Jana, I just wanted to tell you... I blame you for this:

http://thecarsonsblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/and-award-for-parents-of-year-goes-to.html

Anonymous said...

When I was in school, they once threatened me with refusing to let me graduate because they claimed I hadn't returned a book. Then they actually checked their records. Didn't apologize though.

My college library tried to charge me late fees because the dude I personally returned the item to (it was a reserve item, only available for a few hours, which he knew) blew me off and didn't scan it. Luckily I had friends behind the counter that waived most of my fees. $10 was nothing compared to what they claimed I owed.

Now I just don't bother with checking things out. I either read it online, buy it, or spend a couple hours in the library reading so as not to have to take it home and deal with librarians.

A Musing Mom (Taylorclan6) said...

I carry a balance at the libraries. All of them.

Carolyn said...

What is it about lost library books that makes me feel soooooo guilty? I absolutely hate it when we loose one, and of course nobody else in the house could give a care. And it's not like I'm going to threaten them by saying, "Fine! No more library books for you!" Yeah, it just doesn't work well. SO I usually suffer until we find it or (Gasp! shame! Horror!) I actually have to pay for the darned book.:(

HomeSpun Threads said...

I thought it was funny that the book missing was "The Great Waldo Search". Ironic?

millefleur said...

My 8 year old insists on checking out baby books that he remembers from childhood and is SO very nostalgic when he brings them home.

deanna said...

Earlier this year son#1 lost 2 books within 3 week - 35$!!
Son #2 takes after his brother. I just got a note and *he* is now missing 2 library books - I had sent them back to school the same week he got them and told him to KEEP THEM IN HIS DESK FOR SAFEKEEPING. $37.

I made him get two of his (smaller) presents from under the tree so "I can pay for these books". He wailed and said he hated me.

Today I sent in 20$ in an envelope labeled "Family XX Lost Book Fund" I'm instituting a payment plan.

Amy said...

I feel your pain. We lost a library book from our school. Of course we had to pay the $25.95 "library bound" book price...instead of the $14.95 barnes and noble price ( I would have laminated the cover). No worries though, we know own the ORIGINAL library bound book after I found it under the seat in the van right after school ended.

Ya for us!

regina said...

my daughter threw the hunchback of notre dame VHS video in the provo river AND because disney only opens its vault once a decade it was very expensive to replace. the library folks know us very well we alone have supplied them with a new wing with lost/stolen/ruined/just plain disappeared literature for years now. long live the stodmors!

Peaches said...

At the time of writing this comment, I am engaged in a passive search for "The Legend of Spiderman." I've renewed it twice. It's an old paperback, no longer in print. I'm worried what I'll have to pay.

BarbJ said...

I am the librarian in an elementary school and it's not at all uncommon for kids to come to my desk and, while in the process of checking out a book, comment "I have this same book at home!" I always pause, say "Why on earth would you check out a book you already have? Go find a new book!" and put the book on the cart behind my desk. Looks of disbelief and shouted "Hey!"s often follow this move, but for pete's sake! Why WOULD you check out a book you already own?

As for the lost books, my district's policy is to put the title on a list to be replaced at the end of the school year. If you can find and return the book before the end of May, I will happily refund your money! However, if the book is more than a school year overdue, I've already repurchased it and you now own your very own copy.

Finally - why are library bound books so much more expensive than Barnes and Noble? Because they are MEANT to stand up to scores of little hands paging through them! "Publisher Bound Books" fall apart after a school year or so, Library Bound Books can last for years and years.

Rocket Ma'am said...

Ditto my life. Though I've switched library branches because we've damaged so many books that the check-out lady has the security guard follow us around.

This last time I sent dh to the new branch with a cracked Thomas video (3 yo tripped and shattered it on the tile floor) and a dvd to replace it (thanks to the bargain bin at Target). He said the lady was very nice and simply accepted our peace offering any didn't charge us anything. I told him I'm trying to delay the inevitable day they, too, will have our picture on the breakroom corkboard.

Toby and Emily said...

The school library haunts me. My kid continually checks out books he has no interest in. What's the point again?