Sunday, 7 September 2014

I'm a Library late-fee refugee

I'm a Library late-fee refugee
7 September 2014

I seek amnesty. 

From the public library. 

In addition, I need immunity.  From prosecution.  Asylum.  A place of safety.  Protection.  Possible arbitration.  I plead the 5th (even though I live in South Africa and people only plead the 5th in American movies and programmes – still it’s worth a shot).  Also, I need a loan.

To pay my late-book-return-fees.

Man, I seriously suck at the whole library thing. 

What makes it all so bad, is the fact that I really, really, really love the library.  As in a hell of a lot.

It is a place of calm.  Of tranquillity.  Of wisdom.  Of magic.  Of knowledge.  Of stories.

It is a haven.

Which is actually pretty ironic.  Cause I feel like I’m in need of a haven right about now.

From the friggin library of all places!!!

So here’s the problem – personally I think the library is mainly at fault.  Like a bad bookie, they’ve given me too much credit.  Extended me beyond reason.  Dangled way too much book credit in front of me.  And like the book guts I am, I grabbed at it.  With wide open arms.  Bags too.

Five people in my family, means five library cards.  All with access to way too many books to mention. 

And so, every so often (once I’ve returned the latest batch of late books, paid my debt, and have given enough time to pass before showing my embarrassed face there again), the kids and I traipse off to the library.  To use our book credit to the max.  Once more.

And each and every time, I fall into the same trap again.  “No”, I say to the kind librarian.  Please don’t give me the standard two week loan period, let’s rather make it a month.  It’s safer that way.  All books will be read, and done.  Ready to be returned.

Will I never learn?

Because the books are eagerly admired and read.  And somehow they just get swallowed up into the stack of books next to my bed.  Next to Grant’s bed.  The kids’ books in their rooms.  They’re looked after and not abused.  Yet they’re not returned either.

I simply always forget.  I’ve taken to setting a reminder on my phone when I’m at the library and they’re busy stamping away my books.  But still, it’s way too easy to push the snooze button when that irritating alarm comes up.  And then I forget about it again.  Only remembering five weeks later, at 2h17 in the morning, when I get up to go to the loo.  Forgetting again by the time my head hits the pillow.  Remembering about it nine days later, one night while I’m sitting in the hall at a school meeting.  Getting distracted once more, and forgetting yet again.  It’s a vicious cycle. 

And I really have no excuse.  It’s not lack of caring.  I love the books.  I love the library.  I respect the institution.  I just suck at it.  And I’m sorry.

Anyway, I’ve obviously fallen into the same trap yet again.  However, on my latest excursion to the library, I thought I’d really beaten the odds.  I’d only taken along one kid.  And I had restricted him to four books only. 

But forget again, I did.

Which explains why I got a phone call from the library on a Saturday morning (they had already sent me emails which had come through on my phone and had someone been relegated to the bottom of the pile – my bad!).  They dutifully explained that the books were rather long overdue.  I was cringing, apologised profusely and felt mortified.  However they also explained that it was “No-late-fee-week”, at the library.  And hence I practically raced off to the library.  Slunk around in the background until there was no queue.  Quickly slipped in quietly, and apologised humbly.  Slid my books across the counter.  Avoided eye contact.  And vowed to not take another book out again.

Until I’d become a real grown-up.

I have a strong sense of responsibility.  I’m reliable.  Dependable.  But I’m clearly not good with library books.

Perhaps I’ll find a book at the library, that would help to coach me with my failing…

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  1. Impressed you go to the library! At all!!

  2. It was a dark and stormy night...........
    a knock at the front door,
    and there,
    standing in the rain under an umbrella,
    were 2 library ladies,
    collecting late books as they were taking stock.
    Most embarrassing!!

  3. Sorry...I'm guilty as charged aswell!! And the very rare time it actually does get handed in on time ish, you feel like a saint. But haven't had that feeling much!