When I tell people that everyone loses library books (even–nay, especially–librarians), I get the feeling they don’t take me seriously. They think it’s self-depreciating humor or a less-than-honest attempt to make them feel better. But it really isn’t. We work here every day, we see a lot of shiny new books, and we end up checking out many of them just on the off-chance they might work their way into our reading schedules. And if they don’t, we are apt to forget about them until we get the same automated late messages as everyone else. Life happens.
More than once, I have heard people who never use the library say that the reason they don’t is fear of losing books, being late, or damaging items. We don’t charge late fees for Douglas-owned items, and we don’t charge more than the replacement cost for books that are lost or too damaged to fix… But I don’t think that has as much to do with it as shame. People don’t want to be perceived as naughty or careless. But please, please, please don’t assume that we will judge you if you lose, damage, or keep a book for too long. I want to assure everyone that the Simon Fairfield Public Library is a judgement free zone. You don’t have to say you are sorry for keeping a book too long, because we do it, too. You don’t have to feel guilty if you lose or damage an item, because it happens to us, too.
I am the Library Director, and I have overdue books. I have paid for half a dozen books my children have loved to death, and one that just mysteriously vanished from the face of the Earth for no apparent reason I can ascertain. Paying for lost items isn’t a punitive measure. It is a sustainability practice. Now the Library has newer, better copies of those books. I understand that asking us how much it’ll cost to replace the copy of New York Giants Pride your cousin accidentally dropped in the wood chipper may seem like an embarrassing experience you want to avoid, but to us it’s just Tuesday. Don’t let anxiety of judgement keep you from using the library, because we don’t do that here. Happy Thanksgiving.