The public library and I disagree on what constitutes exemplary borrowing behavior.  A couple of weeks before school was out, I rounded up all of the government-related books I had taken out this semester and hauled them in to my neighborhood library.  One by one, I emptied the contents of my overflowing bag into the return slot and felt immensely pleased with myself for finally having completed this to-do list item that I had at least partially intended to do every day for the better part of a month.  Anybody observing the great quantity of books I was returning would surely categorize me as a fantastic library patron.  The librarian, however, disagreed.
             I filled my bag again with a load of titles grabbed somewhat indiscriminately from the shelves on the assumption that of all of the Patricia Polacco books in my pile, certainly one of them would be perfect for the next week’s reading comprehension lesson.  Walking up to the counter to check out, I was still quite smug about having cleared my record of all obligations to this institution, and was optimistic that the new pile would not take nearly as long to return.
            “You can’t take out any books”  the librarian informed me. 
“Oh.  But how could that possibly be?” I inquired.  “Didn’t you see how many books I just returned?  I’m clearly very good at this.”
            “You have three missing books”  she said.
            “You must have me mistaken for someone else” I told her.  “I just brought back a sizeable quantity.  Whatever books you claim are missing are right there.  See?”  I proceeded to rifle through the spines on the “to shelve” cart next to the counter.
            “Nope.  You are still missing three books.  They are not here.  And one costs eighty dollars.  And you can take out no more books.”

            Defeated, I put the collected works of Patrica Polacco back on the shelf and walked out, vowing to never return.  Or to look harder for the missing books.  Or to never return.  One of those two.  How did a forty-page children’s book possibly cost eighty bucks?  And why was she so obstinately failing to recognize that ending up with only three books missing was an achievement

            Monday at school, I put out a call for the missing books, hoping for some assistance from twenty-four sets of alert eyes.  Even the most discrete parent/teacher/closet handoff of birthday cupcakes never escapes their notice and I was hoping to capitalize on some of that careful surveillance to find the keys to my borrowing future at the library.  Should I, in fact, decide to ever return. 
            The all-call was immediately fruitful.  It turned out that the book Trevor had borrowed to read at home was the eighty-dollar one.  Jackpot.  Another of the liabilities turned up in my ever-growing desk pile of papers, transparencies, books, and more papers.  The third….well….it did not turn up.  It is perhaps under one of the kids’ beds at home, in another teacher’s classroom, in my ever-growing home office pile (though I managed to perform a careful inventory of this pile without reducing its size by so much as one piece of junk mail), or has evaporated into thin air. 
Despite the one still-outstanding book, though, I strode into the library today, once again quite pleased with myself for another feat of book-returning prowess.  I knew that having found these two missing items meant I was a fantastic library patron.
“Look at how awesome I am!” I declared to the librarian this afternoon as I produced the two missing books.  This was a different librarian today and I was pleasantly surprised to find him much more able to understand just how excellent are my returning abilities. 
“You are clearly very good at this”  he said. 
“There’s still one book missing….” I admitted, waiting for a scolding, or to hear that this one cost something on the scale of a college textbook rather than the scale of something written for small people with sticky hands.
“Do you want to keep looking for it?” he asked.  “If by that you mean ‘Pretend it never existed and have a great summer,’ then yes!  I do!” I replied.
And so it is with a sense of great accomplishment that I report that during the course of this entire school year, throughout our studies of plants, rocks, and government, through read-alouds and comprehension strategies, I only lost ONE BOOK from the public library.  You teachers out there understand.  I would like a ribbon.


Sparkling said...

That is a major accomplishment. I always worry about borrowing library books and feel like I have to keep them under lock and key with a GUARD lest they accidentally go missing and then my name is forever tarnished!!

I recently had to RENEW my library card though I had just used it the week before. And I just got this one like 2 years ago. I was trying to get some ebooks online and it wouldn't let me until I renewed and I had to call the actual library to do that. Sometimes, with things like these, I feel like the libraries are working AGAINST us while we try to convince impressionable minds that the libraries are such magical places!

Melissa E. said...

Last year I tried to save money by checking out books instead of buying them. The library fines stacked up, and I just gave in and bought a Nook. You can't forget to return books you borrow electronically. ;)

When I check out books for my class, I'm often in trouble with the library. I lose them like crazy. Sigh. My school librarian is always after me with a list. She highlights it just to make sure I know she's serious.

Sarah said...

Forget the ribbon, I think you deserve a trophy!!!! I love bringing public library books to school but I get miniature heart attacks whenever it's time to return them. I've had to do a few all-calls myself ;)

Christina said...

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HappyChyck said...

Sometimes I have to check out stacks of research books from the library so all student can use them instead of just a few, but then I am crazy about accounting for each book before each class leaves. Buzz kill, man.

I DO think you deserve huge recognition for your achievement!

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