Posted by: oneyearbook | February 27, 2009

The library owns me

I have a bit of a problem. An addiction, if you will. It’s to … the library.
This is a problem that, as they often do, has its roots in my childhood. My mother worked at the local library and, after school, I often waited there for a couple hours for her to finish work. I would sit and eat candy and read books. Because she had access to the library systems, when I racked up big fines (you can take out 50 books at once at that library, I sometimes did, and then would forget where they were for months) she would just delete them. We did a calculation once that indicated that she might have saved me in the range of $1,000 in fines over a decade. None of the great responsibility that is inherent in using a library was built up in me; I treated it as my own personal collection, with no punishment for misuse.
When I went out on my own, I quickly fell prey to my problem, racking up $66 in fines at the Victoria library. I reacted by sulking and refusing to use my card for a year, but finally, knowing I would have to do research for my novel, gave in and paid it. I felt I had control of the addiction, that I had learned my lesson about using the library responsibly; although I was soon back in my old habits of taking out many, many books (far too many to be reading at any one time, and often books that, in reality, I didn’t want to read), I also scrupulously tracked their due dates on the Internet and returned them all on time. Until this week, when I left one particular tome to languish on my bedside table for too long, and now I owe $3.60. (Full disclosure: $1.00 of that is because I failed to return 12 Monkeys, the movie, on time, after completely failing to watch it.)
This isn’t enough to stop me from using the card – you don’t have to pay, I believe, until you hit $5.00, and then you can’t take anything out until you pay a bit off. But it is a backslide. I must get tighter control on my problem before it overwhelms my finances.

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