Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Friday, December 2, 2011


Last month I received a letter in the mail from our public library. Interested in what they might have to say, I opened it up to read,

"Dear Avid Library User:

You are one of 500 cardholders out of 20,000 who have checked out more than 1500 materials since you obtained your library card. Wow!"

At this point I was thinking that maybe my family was entitled to some sort of prize package, or maybe even a special honorary dinner for those in the 1500+ category. We would have settled for a free book or two.

Hey, it happens. When I was about 10 years old I won some library contest (you know, the public library on the other side of town, the one that I biked to, by myself, and we never even worried about whether or not a child should bike to the library by herself). They let me pick whatever book I wanted from the library, and they promised to order me a copy of my own. Since I did gymnastics and watched the competitions on TV whenever I could, the book I chose was A Very Young Gymnast by Jill Krementz. I still have that book on one of the many shelves in this house.

"Obviously," the letter went on to say, "Your high volume use means you value your public library and the materials and services that we provide." Yes, this is true. Now what did we win?

Nothing. In fact, they didn't want to award us with anything. Instead, they wanted us to contribute to their fund!

I think they found the wrong group from which to solicit funds. Wouldn't it stand to reason that those who have checked-out the most materials, also pay the highest fines for checking out said materials? We all know that I am ultra-organized to a fault and I have various checks and balances to assure that our materials return from whence they came on time and in the condition with which we found them. But I share a library card with 8 others who do not share my interest in organization and rule-abiding. We have definitely paid our share of fines and bought our fair (or not so fair) share of books that were deemed unreturnable. I am quite certain we have paid the equivalent of at least one full shelf of books in that library so I do not feel as if I owe them any more than that.

Okay, I have to admit, my Scrooge-like resistance is enhanced by my feelings toward librarians, feelings which go back to my childhood when I was scarred by the child-eating ladies employed by the local library. You may think the fact that I rode there by myself was a crime; even today that'd be much safer than letting a child loose in a library. They once had me in tears, insisting that I couldn't check out any more books because I hadn't returned the last one. I knew I had returned it, and my mom was as much an organization freak as me (where do you think I got it?) so of course it had been returned. I rode home, collected my mom, and we returned to the library to argue my innocence. The librarian was steadfast in her belief that I was a reprobate and would amount to nothing. Finally, we asked her if she had checked the shelves. She assured us that it would not be necessary to do so as we obviously had the book in our possession, and it was not in hers. So my mom sent me to look. Since it was one of my favorite books to check-out, I knew exactly where to look. And sure enough, there it was. As I proudly returned it to the librarian, she announced, "You obviously had it all along and were just hiding it so you could say you found it on the shelf." Yeah, Lady, that's it for sure.

It didn't get much better from there. In my elementary and junior high, we had a nasty librarian who hid behind an ultra-conservative veneer and insisted that Satan was hiding somewhere in most books and she had to personally save us from all of them. Later, when I taught at this school, the same librarian once tattled to the principal on me stating that I was using a banned book in my classroom. My sin? Reading Steven Kellogg's Chicken Little to my first graders. Apparently she had it on the teacher's shelves, not because she wished it to be used in the classroom, but because it was an excellent example of a book that should be banned for bullying, portraying hippos as fat and calling them such (aren't they?), and various other criminal elements.

And fast forward to the library that started out by congratulating my family on our high reading level. It was here that one control-freak insisted that we had to pay for a book with a loose page. Never mind that the book, on medieval knights, was clearly well-loved and falling apart in many areas. The page may have come loose on our watch, but not because of us. Now I don't let my kids borrow any books that look even remotely used unless we first have the librarian make a note of the flaws. They love me there!

Which must be why they are so happy with our outstanding checking-out and why they want my hard-earned money. Well, they can't have it. Call me Scrooge, but I believe I gave at the office.

1 comment:

  1. A few weeks ago I was pleading for leniency to the reference librarian for 5 videos that had slipped through my "checks and balances" but that I had caught and returned around 9am of the day after they were due (before the library opened, but not before they emptied the outdoor collection bins). She asked me if this was the first time (hello . . . my daughter has checked out materials in bulk quantities since she was 1.5 yrs old and now she is 8). I can't keep track of that - so she checked. She said, "it looks like it has been a pattern." I was speechless. A pattern? We certainly have had our fair share of missed due dates over the years - but a pattern? Do you know how many books/videos/games we check out on a regular basis??? The one time Aaron took G. to the library and let her check out 5 videos (Mom only lets her check out 2 at a time - to keep fines to a lower amount should we miss their due date) and then the email reminder didn't go out 2 days before they were due (because of a system upgrade) and I didn't remember they were due until the morning after but got them there before the library opened - so we owe $10 and you are scolding me because missing due dates is a pattern and I really shouldn't depend on those emails to help me remember when things are due?!?!?! Sigh. She did reduce the fine a bit, but I won't beg for mercy there again. If only the children's area librarians would be the ones I go to when this kind of thing happens. They see us there all the time and would be more gracious I think (unlike the librarians from your childhood). Anyway, done ranting. Like you, we are simply supporting our local library. What exactly to they do with our fines anyway? Inquiring minds would like to know.