Once upon a time, in a land nearby, there lived a family who enjoyed reading books. The man of the house was a logger and sometimes the logging took his family with him to “the bush”. When the whole family went logging most of the people in the family had time to read books. So they would find the local library and browse, bringing home arm loads of books at a time.
Sometimes because they also had a library at home they would end up with double arm loads of books on the coffee table and some books from some libraries would end up going “back” to the wrong libraries. Libraries don’t like this. Most libraries have computer systems that keep a running inventory on their books and they know just where they might find a wayward book by looking it up.
This past fall our family was pinned with a “wayward” book. The Secret of Grandfather’s Diary was not to be found. They looked in all their personal bookshelves, and under the couches and behind the beds, but it was of no use. The library that owned the lost book was getting pretty owly about it and demanded to be paid 25 dollars or else.
The family chose the “or else” route and decided to buy a replacement of the book for the library. The one librarian was dubious that this would suffice since the special number on the book had to be the same as the special number on the lost book. But a different librarian said, “Pish, just order a good copy of the book and bring it back to me. It will be just fine.”
So the family ordered a hardcover copy, a replacement of the old rag tag paperback book that was lost. In a couple of weeks the book came to their house. The lady of house opened the package and out came a lovely, old, brown book that appeared to have never been opened, probably never had been read. It was a beautiful copy.
They went to the library the very next week and “returned” the book, paid the five dollar fine and scattered to browse. A few minutes later, the front desk librarian brought the same book to the lady of the house and handed it back to her. “This book is too old to have on our shelves anyway, so you may keep it as your own.” She said. All is well that ends well, right?
The very next day, there came in the mail a pink notice from the library that had been sent out a few days before saying, ‘that unless said book is returned in said amount of time the situation would be turned over to the city police as stolen property and said patron would be charged with thievery…’.
What a sad policy for the community library to have in their use. The lady of the house did call to the library and made commentary to that effect. “What if a little child has lost a book?” One wonders if the police in that community have nothing else to do all day but to go about the locality collecting fines for “stolen” books for the local library.