Sunday, August 16, 2009

So many books, so little time

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."

Dr. Seuss

I love to read, and my love for the library started when I was old enough to get my own card. It had a small metal plate in it, engraved with my card number. (This is not my original card, alas that one is long gone.)

The card was inserted in a small machine, then cards were pulled from each book that I checked out and also inserted in the machine. They were stamped with my card number on them and filed away under the due date.

When I was old enough to walk to the library on my own, my best friend, Kim, and I would each kick a stone all the way there (about 8 blocks), leave our stones near the front door of the library, each take out a book, and then kick our stones all the way home. (We lived on the edge, didn’t we?) We’d both finish our books by morning, and start off for the library again.

After I got married, whenever I moved somewhere new, one of the first things I did was register for a library card. It didn't matter that I was new to the area; the library always felt like home.

About ten years ago, I got my dream job of working in a library. I had the advantage of seeing all the new books that came in – and it certainly gave me a high. It was like a drug addict being surrounded by pills. I’d have anywhere from 16-20 books checked out at once. Sometimes I’d spread them all over my bed as I sat amongst them, flipping through the pages, that SMELL of new books wafting up to my nostrils, stacking the books in the order that I had to read them. It was titillating to get a book in from a favorite author that I had put on “hold”.

Oh-boy, that just made my day. My husband enjoyed the perks of his wife working at the library, too. I’d pick up every new Sci-Fi book that came across the desk.

I respect all books, whether they belong to the library or not. I would NEVER, EVER bend the corner of a page to mark my spot. And I hope that you wouldn’t either! You would be surprised what people use for bookmarks, though! Over the course of several years, I’ve seen toilet paper (gee, I wonder where they were reading at the time), tampon wrappers (eww, gross), and even floss. One time we found a piece of cheese. Thank goodness it was the kind that was individually wrapped! Another time a patron used an advertisement as a bookmark asking, “Is your penis too small? Are you satisfying your partner?” It was SO tempting not to take out a magnifying glass and say, “MAY I HELP YOU?”, when he came up to the counter to check out. Another book was turned in with a condom wrapper (open, empty) stuck to the back of the book. I guess he did a little reading after sex instead of the usual cigarette. The best was when we found $200 still in the bank envelope tucked inside a book. We looked up who had checked out the book and found the patron still in the library. It was a young mother of several kids. She was so relived! She told us that her toddler had taken the envelope off of her dresser and “hid” it somewhere. She had been afraid to tell her husband!

And finally, a man walked into the library one day with a tall stack of books. He dropped them into the book drop that was built right into the circulation desk. I reached down into the bin and began to take the items out so that I could check them in. The first item was a book on tape. My hand slid across the top of it – there was some brown stuff smeared across the front. For some unknown reason, I smelled my hand, I guess thinking it was chocolate. I yelled, “That’s not CHOCOLATE, that’s DOG SHIT!” My voice echoed in our small library. I was working with my boss at the time. He fell to the ground laughing so hard. I didn’t mean to yell it, but I was so surprised by that. Tell me this – if you dropped a book in a pile of shit, wouldn’t you know it when you went to pick it up? C’mon!


Rae said...

Gross!!! That is simply disgusting. Probably the person was just too lazy to clean it off.

You sound so much like me. I love books too. I could hang out in a library for hours on end. I am usually reading several books at a time.

Do you miss having space to store books? I have had to eliminate some when I run out of room and I always hate to part with them.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I would have yelled, too! Are you sure a dog was the culprit?? Maybe that same man camped here and is the one who drew a circle with a dot in it one the wall above the toilet paper dispenser.....and yes he used shit as his writing medium. I am guessing it was his own. I am assuming it was a man because it was the men's room, but I have learned to never assume what would appear to be the obvious. I still am wondering what the circle was all about. Was it the circle of life? I am told I wonder too much!

SquirrelQueen said...

Ewwww, I would have yelled at the top of my lungs as well. It's hard to believe anyone would do that, did he not realize everyone would know he was the one who checked out the offending books?

I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on, the library was a favorite hangout of mine. Working in a library would have been pure heaven. I
wish I had more time to read these days.

Sara said...

Ha! I've heard that story before - a classic tale around here for sure! There could be a book, or at least a website, where library staff could share all of the things they've found in and on books. People would be amazed...

WhisperingWriter said...

Dog crap? Ewwwww!!

I love the library. I could spend hours in there..

Anonymous said...

You should use that phrase as often as possible- "That's not chocolate! That's dog shit!" Especially in public.

TennLady said...

OOOh. After I retired from our local library, I was updated regularly by my branch librarian friend. Apparently someone was peeing into the drop box. Glad I wasn retired!

TennLady said...

Part of me wants to say: "Use your library voice, Pat."