So That’s What Happens to Library Books…

Yes, you can! But not on the books, please.

We haven’t had the best luck with the local library. Maybe I should rephrase that. They haven’t had the best luck with us.

The last time we checked out books from the library I unwisely let my children “read” them on the way home. Moments later I realized the folly of my decision when I heard what sounded like the rustling of plastic and the ripping of pages, which it was.

When we got home, I opened the car door to see paper all over the floor. The very large, very non-board book version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, had lost its library jacket. I feared we had just bought one very hungry caterpillar.

Thus, being the upfront and honest person that I am, I mentioned this to the librarian when we went to return the books. (I could have shoved them in the outdoor return, but I didn’t. See how good I am?!) Other than the missing cover the book was intact. Still, I felt the need to apologize for the damage and offer to pay, figuring it would be about a $10.00 fix.

When I heard the words “thirty dollars” come out of her mouth my jaw literally dropped. Thirty dollars?!? For that price, I could buy six copies of the now very expensive and irritating little caterpillar. But, left with few options after my confession of damaging property, I forked over money.

As I stood there writing a $30 check for a $5 book, while my children ran back and forth in the lobby, I decided that we were no longer going to check out library books. In fact, maybe we would take a break from the library all together. So we did.

But last week, I weakened.

On a nice sunny day we visited a park that was next door to another branch of our local library. As soon as we got there, the sun went behind the clouds and the wind kicked up. After a few minutes of freezing, I tore my children away from the slide and enticed them to the library by saying something about toys, computers, and books.

Grasping the tiny wrists of each one of my precious babies now toddlers, we marched into the library like we were on a mission. Well, at least I was. My mission was to get in and out of the library as quickly as possible without any screaming or running. This was not necessarily their mission.

When we reached the kids area at the back of the library, I put earphones on my boys, plopped them in front of a computer where a bunny sang “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” and hurriedly browsed the DVDs and board books. We were definitely not going to check out any book with flimsy pages. Landon was soon disinterested in the bunny and began helping me pick out books, which went fairly well.

I had collected a nice pile of books when I realized I had of course left my wallet in the car, containing my library card. So, we set the books on the counter, grabbed hands again, and walked aaallllll the way out to our car and back in again, and checked out our books. My boys behaved marvelously. There was a bit of squirming and darting, but all in all, it went well, even if it was exhausting.

But here’s where it gets interesting.

God bless them, my sons like to read books! So when my three year old son wanted to lay down in his bed for a nap and look at one of the books we had just checked out, what was I to do? Of COURSE you can read in your bed. There was no cover to be torn off, no pop-up bunny to be ripped, no page to tear. Harmless, HARMLESS, I thought.

And then he woke up.

He came into my room without any pants on and said, “Oh no.”

Oh, no.

I went into the room to survey the damage and I saw that my potty-trained son had apparently woken up from his nap with the urge to pee. Somehow he did not think about using a bathroom. So naturally, he peed on the floor. Right on the library book…naturally.

Now, I know that my experience is not that of every mother, but when I go to check out my next set of library books (when my kids are 13) the sight of stains and tears will make me wonder a bit about the history of the book.

Was this book peed on? Has it ever been thrown in the toilet? Bathtub? What is this pink stuff? Fruit punch? What is this brown stuff? Nevermind. Just get me the Lysol.

As for the poor little Helen Oxenbury book who got an unwanted shower, we did our part. We wiped, we Lysoled, we let it air dry, pages spread open and all. And in a few weeks, we will return it to the local library so some other kid can enjoy it as much as we have.

Read it, pee on it…you know, whatever.

Anyhow, I don’t think I’ll be telling the library ladies about this one…

10 thoughts on “So That’s What Happens to Library Books…

  1. Marie says:

    Good for your for being honest! Most people aren’t. But the reason why library books cost so much is because they have special library binding that prevents them from wearing down as quick. I know, I didn’t realize this until recently either. I can’t donate books TO the library because they’re not “library bound”.

    I usually borrow ebooks online now and just send them to my Nook Color or Kindle FIre then after a week they expire. The only downside to doing this is that you can’t extend your rental. You’d have to re-request it. But at least that way I don’t have to worry about the condition on the books lol.

  2. Tab says:

    Hysterical! Thanks for the laugh. I had to read the part about the “book shower” to Cory. You’re right, I’ll never look at library books the same. 🙂

  3. She's a Maineiac says:

    ahh! Haha! Oh, I can totally see that happening to me. Now it makes me wonder what’s been on all those used library books…I have a stack of them sitting right next to me, maybe I should bathe in Purell before I read them to my kids, huh.

  4. rachaelbecker says:

    LOL. I haven’t been back to the library since I had my second baby. When I used to go with my toddler, our routine looked like this: walked in the door squeezing my son’s hand and proceeded directly to the kids area. Showed him some books while I grabbed any board book that looked remotely interesting. Then, I’d chase him as he rounded the corner and ran down the juvenile fiction isle. Once I grabbed him, we went directly to the checkout and checked out our books. I’d say that whole process took about 3 minutes. 🙂 Then we’d spend the next 30 minutes playing outside on the rocks and paths around the library. I learned my lesson when I checked out a book with rippable pages. My son won’t get anything but board books for a long time.

    PS. In college, my husband sold a textbook back to the bookstore that his drunk roommate had peed on! I feel sorry for whoever got that one back.

  5. finestofapples says:

    That’s hilarious. I think you did the right thing by ‘fessing up the first time. I also think you are doing the right thing by not explaining the pee this time. S. isn’t horrible at the library, though I don’t know if I’ll be able to say the same for A.

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