Monday, November 3, 2014
The Story of the Over-Due Library Book
A first grader made me smile today when a memory from my days as a librarian surfaced. Pretty sure a grin will turn up on your face too as you read about this incident with little Annie*.
It was early in the school year when students are actually excited to visit the library and choose their own books. As I checked in titles from classes that day I noticed that Annie, a beautiful, black-haired oriental girl with a sweet demeanor, had failed to turn in one of her library books.
When her class arrived I instructed the other first graders, with the exception of Annie, to look for other books to check out. I assured her she was not in trouble; I just needed to ask her a question.
"Annie, did you forget to turn your book in today?"
"Did you leave it at home?"
"Is it in your desk in the classroom?"
"Is it in your backpack?"
Puzzled, I took a different approach. "Annie, what happened to your book?"
"I threw it away. I didn't like it."
I so wanted to laugh. In her mind her actions made perfectly good sense. After all, if she didn't like the book how could anyone else.
I couldn't fault her as it was apparent I had not done a very good job explaining how a library works. Once she understood her response was short and simple: "Oh, okay." And off she went to look for another title.
Each week we had students fail to turn in their books when due. Occasionally, a few came back damaged. Sometimes their excuses were hysterical. Here are three I will never forget:
"My Dad ran over it with his truck." (Book was presented showing actual tire marks on cover to verify this child was telling the truth.)
"My cat peed on it." (Kerplunk! That one immediately went in the trash.)
"The banana peel in my backpack did it." (What a sticky mess. A brand new book that was salvaged, but truly lost its appeal.)
But the excuse most often voiced from kids facing a late fine was "My Mom forgot." Nice try, kids, but you checked it out, not your Mom. You are responsible and you have a fine to pay. End of story.
P.S. *I changed the name to protect this delightful child, nor does she appear in the photo at top. The books above are a sampling of ones which made my "favorites" list. Read any of them?