Wednesday, January 05, 2011

the library battles

We LOVE our library. Love. It is beautiful and sunny and child-friendly, with story hours several times a week, and after your suggestions of requesting books in advance, it has become one of my favorite outings with the kids. I sit at the computer late at night, making lists of recommended or popular books, and then head to the library page and request each book. Within a couple of days, I get an email and the books are held for me at the circulation desk of the library. This SAVES MY LIFE, seriously. I could never spend time browsing through books with the kids, or I should say, I could browse through the books, but not without the kids screaming bloody murder and disturbing everyone else. Requesting books allows me to read all the new and hot favorites, but without anyone shooting me dirty looks. You have changed my life, and that is no exaggeration.

A few days ago, though, I noticed on my account web page that our library was saying I'd checked out a book I KNEW I hadn't checked out. Additionally, it said I hadn't returned a book I knew I'd returned. If they'd said I checked out a kid's book I didn't remember, I could have believed it, because there have been times where I have 30 books checked out for the kids. The book was an adult book, however, and I was positive I'd never even seen it before, much less carted it home. Then there was the question of the book I KNEW I'd returned. In fact, as soon as the name popped up, I could picture the cover art. I knew I'd returned it because Gabe and I had an argument as I stood at the returns slot because he wanted to keep it, but it was a Halloween book and it was after Halloween and I saw no reason to keep a Halloween book, so I distracted him and tossed the book in.

I began to fret. I knew I didn't have these books, but I still felt the need to tear the house apart to make sure. I looked through every bookshelf in Gabe's room. I looked under his bed. Pulled his furniture away from the walls. Looked under his rugs, in his closet, in all his backpacks. I searched Josie's shelves, behind her crib, under her rocker. Crawled around my own bedroom and looked under beds, in baskets, on shelves. I checked the living room baskets, under the couches, inside the coffee table. Tore apart the basement, checked every shelf and storage drawer. I checked my car three separate times, and after I did all of this, my mom double checked everywhere I looked. I searched bags in the garage thinking maybe I was crazy and Josh had thrown books somewhere without my knowing.

I drove myself crazy. I began to envision these imaginary conversations where the library didn't believe me and made me pay for 2 separate books. The thing is, I pay late fees to the library all the time, and gladly. The free (!!) service the library provides to me is so awesome, and I'm so grateful, I will happily pay those minimal amounts of money. Even totaling up all the fees I've ever paid to the library, I'd still be saving so much money compared to if I had to purchase even a fraction of the books we read. It's totally worth it.

But this felt unjust and unfair. I knew this wasn't my fault, and because of this, I obsessed over having to pay for the two books. I had a knot in my stomach for several days as I hunted through the house and hoped they would turn up. Finally, though, the due date was upon us, and I was starting to accrue fees. I figured now was better than later if I was going to try to argue my case.

Josie and I dropped Gabe off at school and headed straight for the library. We arrived at the circulation desk, and as I looked at the desk clerk, I found myself at a loss for words. It sounded so ridiculous for me to be arguing that the library had made a mistake on two different books, no matter how convinced I was. I started talking anyway, and within a couple of minutes, the clerk had scanned my library card, looked over my account, and said, "Oh sure, no problem. I'll just remove these from your accounts. These computers are crazy sometimes."

And that was that.

All that stress, anxiety, worry, for NOTHING. It took about 2 minutes of talking, and no one questioned me or argued with me. My account was cleared in no time. Josie and I wandered into the kid's room to pick out some new books, and a few minutes later, the clerk followed us in to let me know he'd done a search himself and located the books on the shelves. Just. Like. That.

Isn't that a lesson? Why waste energy on something so silly, so petty, so UNNECESSARY. Sigh. If only everything in life could be this easy.


liz said...

I would have had the same level of anxiety.