The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Childhood nightmare: misplacing a library book and owning a big fine

In my nightmare, I’m standing before a judge who says, “You’re going directly to jail, not passing GO, or collecting $200″ because you owe (variously) the Leon County Library, the Leon High School Library, or the Florida State University Library system $100000000000 because years ago, you checked out a book and never brought it back.”

This bad dream was based on real life. I always owed fines on library books because (frankly) they (the books) fell between the dresser and the wall, they slid under the car seat, or they were beamed up to the mother ship by aliens from the Delta Quadrant.

I had excuses, but the librarians were cruel.

Main FSU library. I know better than to step inside the front door where the library police will be waiting

Main FSU library. I know better than to step inside the front door where the library police will be waiting

So, it makes my day to read this story out of Seattle: Book returned to Seattle Library more than 40 years overdue, with apology note inside. The book had been written off, wasn’t even in the system any more, so the borrower didn’t owe a $3,700 fine (at o.25 per day).

In my crime dodging fantasy when I was borrowing and randomly returning library books, I wouldn’t have written a note. I would have slid the book under a door, tossed it into the library janitor’s closet, or simply “lawyered up” just in case the principal or the cops showed up.

“Silas Marner? Never heard of it.”

“Your name’s on the library card, son.”

“A forgery, sir. Somebody from the brass section of the band is trying to get the woodwinds in trouble.”

I knew my rights even if I was in the wrong.

So, my hat’s off to this borrower in Seattle who gave the book back to the library and said s/he was sorry. I seldom wear a hat anyway, but it’s the thought that counts. As for me–if my nightmares are correct–the library police in Tallahassee, Florida and Syracuse, New York are probably waiting for me to wander through town so I can be picked up on one outstanding book borrowing warrant or another.

–Malcolm

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2 thoughts on “Childhood nightmare: misplacing a library book and owning a big fine

  1. There are several books in my collection that still have the little card pocket under the cover, but I was not the one who checked them out… I swear it!

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