Monday, September 24, 2012

Trials and tribulations at the library

At the end of July I checked three books out of the library. Then I brought them back and checked out three more books. On August 15 I got a notification that the books I had already returned were overdue. So I called the library and said, I did return those books, and they marked them as "Claimed returned."

Shortly afterwards I tried to renew (online) one of my new books, and it said I was not allowed to renew this book because I had three OVERDUE books. Okay. I decided to go back to the library and discuss this with a person.

Then Hurricane Isaac intervened. I had checked all these books out from a branch library, but they actually belonged to the main library. On the Saturday after Isaac, my branch library was still closed but the main library was open, so I went down there.

The librarian told me that my account had been locked, and I would not be able to check out or renew any more books until my three missing books reappeared. Maybe I would find them around the house, she suggested. I knew I would not. Well, she said, the alternative is to list these three books as missing, then you can pay for them and your account will be reactivated. (Two of these books were kind of old, and I have no idea how much they would be worth, even if I had any extra money, which I don't.) She said, then if you do find the books, you will have bought them and you can keep them. I said, I will not be able to find the books because I already returned them to the library.

Well, she took pity on me and let me renew the one book I wanted to renew. She also looked up the missing books and saw that they were supposed to be at this main library. She said, "We will do a shelf check and if the books turn up, you will see they're no longer listed in your online account."

I went home and checked my account about a week later. The books were still marked as "Claimed returned" which apparently means absolutely nothing. I had one library book, which would be my last. I was sorely tempted to just keep it. What more could they do to me? They'd already banned me from the library.

Then I began to think. I had returned the books to the branch library. Maybe they had never left the branch library. Maybe someone had put them back on the shelves over there. This Saturday I went back to my branch library and looked on the shelves in the appropriate location. There they were!

I took them downstairs and explained to this librarian that I really had returned these books, just like I said. He was very apologetic, and very sympathetic when I said that the other librarian had told me I wouldn't be able to check out any more books. He said, that is not our policy here at this branch.

So. My reputation and access to free books have been restored. Happy day. I'm going to write a review of the one book, the book that I briefly thought would be my last library book. It's pretty good.

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