I am having relationship troubles with the library. What was once a source of unmitigated joy has become a source of guilt, resentment and dread. I think we need to go in for counseling.
The central issue is a book that got a little wet at the edge on its way to being returned, due to a leaking water jug in the car. Unfortunately I didn't notice it until it was on the return stack, when I exclaimed in astonishment, "Oh dear, it got wet!" A librarian in the vicinity must have taken note of it, because she tracked me down later and explained the book was irreparably damaged and I would have to pay for it--$22--but it was good of me to be so honest about it. We didn't have cash on us that night, so she checked it back out to us. And DOB pointed out that if I had thought not to say anything, we could have taken it back home and seen how well we could dry it out before we talked to them. But I don't have quite the radar for Not Getting In Trouble that he has.
It seemed worthwhile to take it back and see how it dried out anyway. So we carefully dried it, pages fanned, and then I carefully ironed each page with a dry iron. The end result was pretty good--it looked about as good as any book from the library that's been read a half-dozen times.
If you carefully examined the back pages, you could see a little wrinkling, but that was all.
Unfortunately, the same librarian was in the next week. And she was certain--even before she looked at the book--that it would not do. No, the whole book would have to be thrown out, and we would have to pay for it. Understand, there's no mold or stuck pages or blurred words involved. The back pages are very slightly wrinkled. That's all. If this is the standard for replacing books, it must have been implemented very recently, because I have often checked out books with crumpled pages, scribbles, and even ripped-out parts. Or they just penalize honest people.
Maybe not so honest~I'm going to iron those pages one more time and we're going to take it to the branch it originally came from and hope for a more merciful, or less picky, librarian. A fine for damaging the book would be one thing, but we didn't destroy it!
Meanwhile, there's a book the library shows me as having checked out that I am all but absolutely certain that I returned. I keep renewing it, hoping it will turn up on their shelf or mine. I keep checking places to see if the ducklings pulled it out of the return bag and lost it somewhere, but I'm about out of places to look. It's not a small book that can easily slide into obscure places. I know there's something you can do to claim you returned the book, but I'm not very optimistic about a positive outcome after the other experience.
And on top of all this, I just realized I forgot to renew books on Monday, which is the day I always renew everything for the upcoming week. So there's five days of fines on a dozen books that are absolutely, unquestionably, irrevocably, completely my fault.
Now I dread even going to the library and I hardly dare reserve any new books. That one librarian is going to start haunting my dreams soon.