Bank – ATM – ✔️
Drive-up postal box ✔️
Coffee – ✔️
Library – ???
My library card had expired a month ago. I needed to renew it. To do so, meant going into the library.
I live in a city that does not have a library. Sad, I know, BUT, it is a very nice city that tries to treat her residents well, and does so in what I feel is a rather nice way. To own a library card, we must buy one from another municipality. My city, however, will pay half of the charge, up to $100. That means, if a neighboring library sells you a card for $200, the city will reimburse for half of that. Not a bad deal at all.
For many years, I have purchased my card from a small library with a healthy tax base in the next town over. It is the library where I was ‘mullioned” a few years ago. They are such nice folks, recognize me, and are part of a very large library system, which allows me library privileges in a very large inter-library loan system.
Most of you know my love of libraries, and how I often frequent them.
I have a “library habit”.
The librarian told me she could renew my card, but, the fee had gone up. She suggested another library, equidistant from our house, that was offering my city and another a card for $100. (which means it would end up costing me $50).
Of I went, down the road, to a charming library, nestled in a small but established residential area that was surrounded by thriving industries and major expressways. I parked on the street, closer to the entry than my own back door. Doors automatically opened and I was greeted by non-other than the head librarian, who asked if she could help me. I assured her I was fine, in spite of my very fat boot, and said that I was interested in getting a library card.
This library, dear reader, and this librarian are everything a library should be! Not only was I welcomed with open arms (and a handshake), but, I was introduced to another library patron, Betty, who lived in my own city, and invited to come to a once-a-month coffee hour at the library.
My maiden voyage, after The Fall, was going pretty well – until . . .
. . . no, I stayed on my feet. It was while one of the librarians was entering my information from my expired card. The head librarian had just handed me a welcoming tote bag, and filled it with all sorts of useful items and the library’s brochure, as she offered me a chair to sit on. The registrar asked a few questions, then, casually said “it looks like you have some outstanding fines“. I could not imagine what fines they might be, but, I did remember returning a few items last month a day late. I asked how much I owed.
How could that be? Surely I would have received a notice for such an outstanding fine, either via email, phone call, or, gasp, the U.S. Postal Service. I was flummoxed, fretting, and forlorn, for sure!
The registrar kept entering information on her keypad. I wondered if she was tapping out code for “felon in library – owes bigly” (sorry, I couldn’t resist that).
I endorsed a personal check for the library card fee, handed it to the registrar, and asked who I should make the check out to for the fine, calculating how I was going to square such an unexpected deduction in my checkbook. There HAD to be a mistake, but, one should not leave such outstanding debt dangling like a hanging chad (sorry, again). If I didn’t ante-up, would I be arrested? abandoned from libraries for a millennium? book lice sent to monitor my every page turned?
“Oh, don’t worry. You can pay it anytime?“.
“Are you sure? That’s a big fine. Can you check again and tell me which library I owe the money to?“
She noted the items: two books, an audio, and I could remit payment another day.
“Just that for $195.00?“
We stared at each other, for a moment, maybe two, and then the registrar replied, aghast, “Oh, no! I wasn’t clear. That is $1.95!“.
It is good, is it not, to have a good laugh, even at one’s own expense, on a maiden voyage in a medical boot while renewing a library card?
Dewey Decimal is still used in libraries, or adapted for modern-day usage, but, that one distinctive decimal point is the one that can cause chaos.
Off I hobbled, with all of my goodies, a new book, and a smile over my faux pas . I’ve needed a bit of an adventure, and I had one, once again while in a library.