Although I think it's an amazing resource, the public library system and I have had a sordid, emotionally unhealthy history. Today... I finally come clean.
Attempt #1- It all began when I was in kindergarten. I remember getting my shiny new library card... my very first. It was amazing (and a bit overwhelming) to think about all the books now at my disposal. I remember taking out two books... one was Anna Karenina and the other was Swann's Way. [Okay, okay... one of the books may have been Sesame Street related. The other was Proust, I swear ;o)]. And at that moment, so began my library delinquency. My hometown library never saw those books again.
Attempt #2- I'm now a teenager. I finally get up the courage to apply for another library card in my hometown (I'm not quite sure what kind of power I thought these elderly librarians weilded, but apparently it was scary enough to keep me away from the library for roughly twelve years). Luckily, becauseI'm old as fuck the library didn't use computers when I was a kid, they seemed to have no record of me owing a bajillion and twelve dollars for Big Bird Reads Charles Dickens. The library felon was now in possession of her second library card. I don't even know what I took out that time. But you better believe that the stacks of that library never possessed whatever teen angts-y volume (Daria Reads Sylvia Plath?) I checked out again.
Attempt #3- I'm now about 27 years old. I've been married for two years to the guy I was mostly likely already dating during Attempt #2 (he should've run then). I had been unemployed for a few months and therefore my already-read book collection was getting a little unseemly. I think there is still a family of possums living in my office that I'm not even aware of. Husband finally decided that enough was enough... I needed to start using the vast resources our public library had to offer instead of spending my "generous" unemployment check at Borders (sigh... Borders ::moment of silence for our fallen comrade::). I warned him... but he didn't listen. I told him I knew exactly what was going to happen. I would take out the maximum of 30 books, never return them and they'd come and take our house away.
[Read more after the jump!]
I actually did really well at first. It probably helped that I was wasn't working so my only daily "responsibilities" were waking up at 9am, stumbling down to the couch, turning on old episodes of Will & Grace and passing out until again about noon (why did it take me 6 months to find a job, again?). I got cocky... I could totally do this whole library thing. I had finally overcome my juvenile delinquent past. The library was mine... I had won! Damn the man, save the Empire!
And then, I got a job. That whole pesky 9-5 thing (or 9-6, in my case) really put a damper on my abilities to stop at a building that's ON MY WAY HOME and throw a book into a giant bin. I'd have to pull in. And stop the car. And open the car door. And pick up the books. And walk over to the return book bi... ah, I'm exhausted just thinking about the effort.
Husband would jokingly threaten that The Library Police were going to find me. I would rail that that was NOTHING to joke about. If you've ever read Four Past Midnight (a collection of short stories by Stephen King) you'll know that The Library Police goes all Jerry Sandusky on the asses of those who disrespect his authority (Stephen King may be twisted, but he's mine). A little harsh punishment for my un-returned copy of Gordon Ramsay's autobiography that is still sitting up in my attic at this very moment. Wouldn't you say?
This Christmas, my in-laws gave me one of the funniest (and most thoughtful) presents I've ever received...
They paid off my library fines!
It amounted to a little over $100. My mother-in-law presented it to me with a notorized letter from "library detective, Bookman" (Husband's family loooooves their Seinfeld), essentially reaming my felonious ass for not returning my books in a timely fashion. I was informed that my poor father-in-law had been sent to three separate local libraries to pay off all my fines (I still maintain that I had fines due at one of the libraries who said I was all paid up. Bwahahaha! Suck it, Howard Whittemore Library!). The final gift was a receipt that confirmed that the Connecticut Public Library system no longer had a Wanted poster emblazoned with this adorable mug hung up in all their branches. I was free! All those books were mine, again, for the taking borrowing!
I began this challenge and the library seemed like an excellent way to keep costs down when I wasn't reading books that were available for free download on the Kindle. And then... I struck again. $37 worth of fines. I brought back the books ready to pay the almost-$40. When I got there, I was fortunate to be helped by a librarian who had roughly the same mathematics skills as I do... evident when she calculated what I owed and came up with "Twelve dollars... but just give us ten". I quickly pocketed my $27 and most likely spent it all later that same day on Starbucks.
And then I was good... until yesterday when I received an email stating I owed 80 cents for a copy of The Feast of All Saints that I'm reading for a book club. DAMN IT!
Will it never end?! My friends and family members joke about my inability to maintain a healthy, successful relationship with the public library. Apparently, I'm one of those women who isn't interested in a partner unless there's at least a little unnecessary drama going on... and if there isn't, I start picking fights. I like my tumultuous relationship with the library... we're frienemies. We don't always see eye-to-eye, but we have a mutual love that keeps us together.
But damn it... I'm really sick of having to give that bitch my money!