Friday, June 09, 2006

The "Family"

I love going to the library. We go every week. I reserve books/videos/computer software/audio books/CDs online and then we make our trip to pick things up. Then when we get there I browse the shelves for more. It's not unusual for us to come out with 50 items in one trip. It's annoying to my husband, but he's okay as long as I don't send him to pick up our stuff. It embarrasses him. I think he feels like he's looting the place. Imagine that.

I will say it hasn't always been such fun for me. The librarians in our branch our very...well...librarian-ish. I like to refer to them as the Library Gestapo. They are well over 60 and very particular about library rules and regulations. Don't be caught breaking them or you will pay. See, books you can keep for two weeks. But videos and DVDs are only allowed out for one week. They charge you 50 cents a day for each day they're overdue. Now there have been several instances in my library patronage where I haven't been able to make my weekly trip and the wonderful "free" videos from the library end up costing me more than a ticket to a Broadway show. One librarian in particular - we'll call her The Nazi - found it necessary to refresh my memory about the video rules. "If you get them back within the week, it won't cost you anything," she quipped, with a smug smirk.

But I like paying through the nose to see Thomas and the Magic Railroad every day for two weeks straight.

She even went so far as to correct my children for being too loud. I know, I know. You should be quiet in the library and it's her job to enforce that. But I was right there. The words were on the tip of my tongue. And they weren't yelling or screaming. Just talking in a normal voice as opposed to the hushed tones preferred by the Gestapo. And she gave me that look. Good grief. Give me a chance to teach them how to behave, for crying out loud.

I lost a book once. It was Madeline. You'd thought I had killed one of their children. The Nazi, fighting back tears, told me I should have a special place set aside for library books so we can keep them all in one place. I paid for it, but felt their eyes on me each time I visited. Watching me, cringing each time I touched one of their beloved little ones.

Not too long after that they called me, saying I hadn't returned another book. I searched everywhere for it, even though I was 99% sure I had taken back. But I was the one who had been complacent in looking after Madeline, surely it was my fault. Alas, it was nowhere to be found. I was prepared to buy yet another book we could never read. Imagine my surprise, and theirs, when they found it. Someone had put it back on the shelf without logging into their system.

Yeah. I felt vindicated.

However, because I love the library so much, I have done everything within my power to please her strict masters. I made each Wednesday our library day so we could have all videos back in seven days. We designated a special crate in the living room where all library materials go. I remind the kids before we go in to use their "library voices" and no running. I think the Gestapo noticed. They have been very sweet and accommodating when we visit. They even let us check things out when I forgot my library card once, saying, with a sweet smile, "We know who you are."

But last week, I failed them. Due to the stomach virus that ransacked our house, our items were overdue. I dreaded going back. I didn't want to see the disappointment in their faces. Hear the regret in their voices.

I'd lost favor.

And they let me know it. I tried to explain to the Nazi that we'd had a stomach virus, but her sly smile and failure to speak said it all as she silently checked us in.

I don't know whether to be ticked off or scared out of my wits. Why do I get the feeling they're sizing me up for cement shoes?

22 comments:

kellygirl said...

Hi, I foung your blog through a friend of mine. It sounds to me like they see you coming and hide the new books! We also love going to the library. I have four kids and the two youngest are 2 1/2 and 1. So they don't always maintain nice library voices. So what is a library voice exactly? Is it a wisper? Well, our library is very small. I like that. We can order stuff from other/bigger libraries and pick them up at our library (ok we can all probably do that!) But our librarians are nice ladies. The labrary we went to before we moved should be named in our honor because we have built a financial pillar in the labrary from all our late fees. It is crazy how much we have payed. I can identify with you on that point. I guess the rest just sounds like I'm bragging.

Malissa said...

haha! Those darn videos get us every time!

But ours charges $1 per day they're late.
Thankfully they are really relaxed about talking in their-- and gasp! They have recently allowed in water and coffee (liberals they must be liberals)

Malissa said...

their=there

Sarah Walston said...

In San Antonio it's $2 per day you are late with the videos! YIKES!

Here's what you should kindly remind the librarians.
1) They are public employees who make their living from the taxes YOU pay and the late fines YOU generate.

AND

2) The fact that you got the library books back SANS throwup should be rewarded.

It's not like you sat the books on top the roof of your car so you could load up your kids and then get home in time to cook supper and when you got home you realized you were missing 2 books....the two books you had sat on the roof of the car...but you had forgetten about them...and so you drove back to the library and found the books in the middle of the road....with a big 18-wheel tire mark down the middle of the book....

I mean - there are worse things than losing a library book.

Heth said...

I'm pretty sure that I single handedly fund our library through my late fees.

Sorry you fell out of favor with the Nazi. Maybe a bribe?

Chrissy said...

Been there, done that. I live in a small town and you know how people in a small town talk. I often wonder if, when I'm in a setting other than the library, the Nazis see me coming and whisper to their cronies about what a bad patron I am...

Sarah said...

We have really nice library personnel, but we have the $1/ day late video. That stinks.

Denise W. said...

I'm so happy toknow there are lots of moms paying those late fees - not just me! I kills me to waste my money that way!

The good news is that here in Abilene they have an amensty program. It's in December and you can trade in canned goods for your fees. Of course, you can't go to the library until December,,,,,

heartsjoy said...

L, I love the library too!! AND hate the late fees! I have to have a specific day as well or we all to easily forget. Sorry you are having to deal with the nazi. Hopefully you will get in good graces again soon. :)

jesprincess said...

The library by my house has a book reading for kids every Wed. at 10am. It's great because you can let the kids listen to the story while you find all things you want to take home. Also, I was telling my children that they needed to be more quiet one day and the librarian said "Oh don't worry about it, we're trying to make this place more kid friendly so people feel like they can bring their kids here." They are all really sweet. I don't know if it's too far for you, but it is really nice!

Grafted Branch said...

PARTY GIRL with Parker Posey as a librarian-by-day, partier-by-night.

I wonder if you can check that movie from your local branch! lol.

(It's been awhile -- I'm sure some of the content would shock me now whereas it didn't then.)

But I haven't looked at librarians the same way since...

Shehopper said...

Being a public school librarian ... I too have thought I was the only one who ever got all the late fees. It is really bad when you check them out for school and bring them back late. I really hope none of my kids call me a Nazi. I am sure they call me worse...they are seventh graders!!!

tonya said...

As a homeschooling mom, I understand you! I laughed when I read your post. I too keep 50-60 books out at a time, and no my hubby doesn't understand it either. As for the Nazi's, bring them cookies, everyone loves cookies.

Susan (5 Minutes For Mom) said...

LOL. That really made me laugh. It reminded my of the Seinfeld episode when he had to pay for a library book he took out as a teenager.

I'm so bad about returning library books that I almost never go. But as my daughter (now 13 months) gets older I will force myself to become more disciplined and make a library crate and try not to spend her college tuition in late fees.

Talk soon,
Susan

AfricaBleu said...

Hey Supermom, thanks for visiting my site.

We used to have some a Nazi librarian in our town, too. She hated kids, (she had the children's room moved as FAR away from her desk as possible, and required the kids to keep the door closed at all times) and treated each and every book like it was her own personal property. We got the big *sigh* e.v.e.r.y. time we borrowed ANYTHING -- like we were mooching relatives, trying to filch one more freebie off of her. We were allowed (get this!!) THREE BOOKS per FAMILY -- so I could get one, my son could get one, and my daughter could get one. (Sorry, Dad -- no book for you!)

Of course, the fact that she was a YANKEE didn't help her standing in the community -- disgruntled library patrons always threw that little fact in when speaking of her -- as in "That Yankee librarian gave me a dirty look. 'Course what do you expect...?"

She finally retired, and we now get to check out SIX books per family. What bliss.

jessica said...

I spent so much money on late fees last year I am afraid to even bother with the library this summer. I have a tendency to buy books left and right so maybe they will be happy with the books they own for a bit.

humpty said...

My dh check out a book from that same library about a month ago. It was a brand new book on the display shelf. Our new puppy decided to use it for a chew toy. I am soooooooo glad that he checked it out in HIS name and not mine. He has yet to take it back - fear and trepidation!

Diana said...

I used to walk into the Main Library with such eagerness...then the Nazi's made me stop going. Not that they asked me to, but the way they looked at me when they knew I had yet another late book. That was when I was in high school... Ihaven't been back. I'm going to have to befriend the local librarian so I can get some books for my Little Man. (Big city=lots of libraries)

Peach said...

At our library, they are having "Amnesty" month for the month of June. Woo Hoo! That means that books they've not seen in years will finally make their way back to the library shelves.

I'm searching under the sofa right now for epics that I previously couldn't afford to return for fear of taking out a bank loan.

No charges!! No questions asked!! That's my kind of library system.

HeartsDesire said...

I must be blissfully ignorant or it must be a bi-product of living in the city. They never even look at me. We are there all the time and they don't even recognize me. BTW: My daughter's card has an enormous fine. My son's card has an enormous fine. My teacher card (for homeschoolers or teachers) has an enormous fine. My personal card now has an enormous fine. I am borrowing my teenage brother's card (from when he stayed with us last year) and begging hubby to get his own so I can run up a fine on that one, too. Oh, and I never leave with less than 20 books, most of which were on hold for me.

Cindy said...

Ahh, the Nazi's at their best! The anti-family anti-procreating bunch.
More than once we were told we didn't return a book and more than once I found the book on the shelf where it belonged, not checked back in. In our local library, you can also contest it and they will mark it lost, this stops the fines from accrueing.
One time I "lost" a book that was the same color blue as my son's wall, it was pinned to the wall by other books in the open back shelf and blended perfectly to be unseen.
That's when we started using one special cupboard for all library books, we too would check out 60 books at one time.

joyfuljourney said...

Our tiny town has a tiny library. It makes me so sad because normally I think the library is just about the best place to be. It is certainly the best cheap/free entertainment. The other day we went to the big city. We usually drag the boys around town shopping, but this time we took them to the Abilene Public Library. It was great! They read books and worked puzzles. The librarian couldn't have been nicer. It made me think of your Nazis!