My picture hangs in libraries nationwide.
Unfortunately it’s tacked on the “Most Wanted” board. I have this ongoing love/hate relationship with libraries. I love them, they hate me. Is there anything better than a large, preferably old, building filled to overflowing with books, CD’s, DVD’s, and magazines?
My children have inherited my love for libraries.
“Can we go to the library?” A question I anticipate hearing at least weekly.
As my kids wreck havoc in the children’s section, I filter through cookbooks, novels, and occasionally a fitness book. Why I actually remove a fitness book from the confines of the library is hard to explain. I often feel compelled to explore the world of health and fitness, usually reserving physical participation for my dreams. I optimistically hope seeing that fitness book on my coffee table will prevent me from eating popcorn at night or in the best of circumstances, motivate me to workout. Neither happens, but still I continue to pursue behavior modification through the written word.
Entering the sacred chamber of the library is like being transported into a world of endless opportunity, infinite wisdom, and exciting adventures. It is heaven on earth. All is peaceful, quiet, and good in the library.
It’s returning home that’s the problem. Once I get all my treasured, borrowed belongings home, I become attached to them. They meld into my home, becoming part of my family. Due dates fade with time and pass without my realization. It is then that librarians begin their campaign to pester me mercilessly.
“Ms. Gillespie, your books are overdue…Ms. Gillespie, do you have ‘Body of A Goddess’…Ms. Gillespie, we mailed you a late notice…Ms. Gillespie, you owe $2.38.”
Is there no end to the monotonous voice of a librarian?
With you, I will now share my darkest secret. I once stole a Tom Clancy book from the library.
I’m as shocked as you. Please believe me, it was completely unintentional. This was pre-child, so I had no little voices urging me back to the library. Tom Clancy sat snugly tucked away in the shelf with the rest of his colleagues. I meant to grab it before work and discreetly slip it into the after hours drop slot on my return commute, but good intentions are never enough.
Moving day arrived and before I knew what had happened, Tom was packed away and stacked in a mountain of unmarked boxes. What could I do? He moved with me. I felt his eyes burning holes into my conscience each time I passed through the living room. For years, I lived with my guilt publicly splayed out on a shelf until Tom eventually migrated to a box marked yard-sale. Before I could stop him, he walked out my door for good.
Till my dying day I will always pause before entering a library, my conscience burning with guilt. My heart utters a few extra beats as I hand over my card. Eventually all libraries will be linked nationwide. There will be no escape. Secretly I long for the day of punishment. My guilt laid to rest.
For persons such as me, my current library has adopted a “no late fee” policy. My children and I did the dance of joy the day the policy was instituted. My husband applauded such outright graciousness. We have, after all, personally funded an entire shelf of books through our late fees. I feel it’s my civic duty to be late…someone must support the library.
I must repay my debt for Tom.