What the Library Lady Wants You to Know

library lady

Good morning to all. Today I’ll take a moment to speak to library patrons and anyone else who wants to delve into the deep dark secrets of the library world.
WARNING – this article contains topics of an adult nature, such as how to correctly checkout and return library items.
Library Patron: “But I didn’t think it was that complicated.”
Library Lady: “It’s not, if everyone does it right.”
Here are three ways to make life easier for yourself and your librarian.

check out books

But Remember to Return It

1. I’ve Already Returned That

Let’s say you’ve turned in your library books but according to your account, Gone with the Wind and Zombies, is still outstanding.
What? you think. This is not possible. I turned in all my library items, there must be a mistake.
You approach a librarian and say, “I already returned this. I specifically remember putting that exact book in the slot. “
Well, here’s the thing, dear friends, we at the library want to believe you,
but  . . . everyone says that. The tune or the lyrics may differ from person to person, but it’s essentially the same song. And guess what? Nine times out of ten, when the person agrees to go home and check around, they find Gone With the Wind and Zombies in their reusable grocery bag, in the trunk of their car, or in their child’s backpack to name a few notorious hiding places.

So here’s what the Library Lady would like you to know. Before you get in a tizzy about a missing library item, do this: look under the couch cushions, on your children’s bookshelf, under beds and between mattresses. Check under the car seats, in stacks of newspapers, and my own personal favorite – in your luggage. (I once paid for a lost book  I knew I’d returned, then found it in my suitcase when packing for my next trip.) If after all this you really can’t find it – come on in and let’s talk.


2. I Never Checked This Out

“A Mermaid’s Kiss? I would never check out a children’s book. I only read mysteries. This is definitely a mistake.”
I get this. Why? Because it happens all the time. Once again I’ve done it myself.  You look at an item on your account and think, what is this! After becoming all hot under the collar and fuming about the injustice of someone else’s book getting checked out on your card,  you stumble across that very item in your work locker or on your coffee table underneath the magazines.


“Ohhhh, that Mermaid’s Kiss.”
What the Library Lady would like you to know: If you have an item on your account that doesn’t ring a bell, Google it, or look it up on Amazon. There you’ll find a cover picture and description. If you’re still sure you never checked the item out – come on in, we’ll talk.

3. It Was Like This When I Got It

Oh the stories I could tell, but I won’t (tell all of them) because I love book people and wouldn’t want them to think I was amused by their antics. One patron returned five children’s books which all had purple felt pen coloring in them. The father of the budding artist was convinced the books were like that when he checked them out. Unfortunately, the odds are pretty slim that out all of the books in the library he chose the five which were identically felt penned.

We’ve had books returned with so much water damage they wouldn’t even close.
“But it was like this when I got it.”
Believe me, it wasn’t. Nothing like that goes back on the shelves. Cover ripped off and dangling by a thread, stove burner imprint melted into the cover of the book, crushed with tire marks across pages 73 and 74 – same answer.

Of course, nobody’s perfect least of all the Library Lady. Some times things slip by and a patron gets home with a  problem which really was not their fault.
What the Library Lady would like you to know
: Before you take things home from the library, look at them carefully. Open DVD and CD cases to see if the discs are really in there. Check children’s and other books for damage – coloring, torn pages etc. Then, If you accidentally get home with a damaged item, call us right away, and we’ll talk.

checking out - child

The whole idea of a public library is to get great books and media into the hands of great people. Hopefully this little reminder will make that process easier and more positive for all.

Have you ever lost a library item then found it in a weird place? I’d love to hear about it – I’m keeping a list of places for people to look.


Going on a trip? Always check for cool libraries at your destination. You never know what treasures you’ll find – Spectacular Libraries of Paris.






51 thoughts on “What the Library Lady Wants You to Know

  1. It isn’t a wacky place, but I’ve found library books hiding in plain sight on our home bookshelves. Since we buy books from the library discard store, active library books blend right in. Then I took a cardboard box with handles and slapped shelf paper on it and designated it the Library Book Box. Library books stayed THERE until they were taken out to be read and went back there after they were done with. We got out no more than ten at a time, and all ten had to be accounted for when we were ready to go back. It worked — mostly.


  2. Hi Rowena, Thanks for a different point of view, we needed that. Honestly, I hesitated before posting this because I didn’t want to scare people away from the library. I guess you just have to balance the savings over the years with the potential of having to pay for something. If you’re not O.K. with taking a chance there are so many other ways to enjoy the library these days. Digital books, audiobooks, movies, and magazines are all available through the library and don’t cost a thing. They disappear from your account when they’re due so no fines, and you can’t lose or damage them because you never touch them. We also have a massive book sale going at all times where most items are a quarter apiece. So there are lots of different ways to get books, I love that you donate them back to a good cause! Good to hear from you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Geanie, I haven’t found any library books in strange places because we don’t borrow library books in our house. Our place could almost be renamed the local library and I’ve donated kids books back to the primary school once we’re done. That’s because I fit a different kind of library profile. The person who is too scared of borrowing a book and losing it or forgetting to take it back and ending up with a nasty fine. I inherited this concern from my mother who was always late back with library books when she was growing up and instilled her motto into me: “Never a borrower or a lender be”. I tend to pick up books cheaply from local op shops or those little street libraries which have sprung up and I even buy copies of favourites to give to friends when I find them.This is a good way of avoiding the troubles you’ve described and you can always return it to the op shop when you’re done.
    Best wishes,


    • You should, we have everything these days! I can’t even imagine how much money I’ve saved over the years by checking out books and movies from the library. Good to hear from you.


  4. I used to have a regular habit of nodding off in the bath, book in hand. That awful start of guilt when the book touches the water and you grab blindly! These days I invariably shower. I do miss a bath, but I don’t miss ironing the pages of my library book. 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ok, but to be totally honest – it’s really hard to see under the front seat of the car! But when it is found, there is rejoicing in the streets! Amen.


    • I agree on both counts. Crawling on the garage floor to see under the seat is a pain but what a relief to find that expensive missing item. Currently missing a DVD. 😐 Wish me luck.


  6. Very clever post Geanie! I smiled at all the excuses. When my kids were in grade school I volunteered in the library and I heard all of those excuses. I don’t think I have any books that I haven’t returned. I did find some books at thrift sales that still had library cards in them. Thanks for the smiles today!


  7. Truth be told, I have a book on my bookshelf with a library card from my Middle School library. 53 years at 2¢ a day isn’t that much, but way more than the cost of the book.

    Your section – “It Was Like This When I Got It” reminded me of the years I had to deal with traveling coworkers and their broken laptops. None were ever dropped, bobbled or checked into baggage. They were all working just fine the last time they were in use.


    • I’d love to know the name of your middle school library book. Sounds like it was a keeper. I get the laptop woes, aren’t people a hoot? My self excluded of course. Don’t tell anyone this, but I’ve misplaced a DVD during this lockdown thing, and am SURE I returned before all this started.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi. I was a pretty frequent visitor to my local libraries. They’ve been closed, due to the pandemic, for over two months. I miss them a lot. (I live in the Philadelphia burbs)

    Are libraries open in your region?


    • Just barely. We’ve recently started doing curbside service. People put items on hold, then we check them out, bag them up, and have them waiting outside at the pickup point. The only problem is people have to make an appointment for all this to happen, and many don’t like that idea. Learning curve, it’s better than no books at all, right?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Well, now that you mention it I could expound all day on the pros and cons of ebooks. Essentially, I love Eaudio books – no CDs to lose, no scratches or skippy discs, and no late fines. As for Ebooks, not so much love here. I’d rather read a regular book. Have you ever smelled a newly published book? Or listened to the crackle of fresh pages? There is none of that with an Ebook. Digital magazines are great, almost like reading the real thing. I’ll stop now, but maybe more on this later. Good post idea – thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I never lost a library book but last week I was on the train and forgot my bag which contained 4 library books. Thankfully I realized it before the train departed and jumped right back into it, claiming my bag before it could disappear. I swear I haven’t been that anxious to get something back for a while. *lol* I really hope this won’t happen again, but knowing my slow brain in the morning it’s better to put those books in a backpack and to keep them close to me. XD


    • That’s what I say, always keep important things attached to your body. This reminds me of a time I was traveling and hopped on a train. As I looked out the window, I noticed a woman frantically gesturing at me. She was pointing at my purse which was stuffed with passports etc. and was sitting on the bench I’d just vacated. I leapt off the train, grabbed my bag and still made my connection. Thank you kind stranger!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank the heavens for that kind stranger! 😀 I’m like that too and occasionally run after people that forgot their umbrella in the train. *lol* I wish someone would have done that the last time I forgot mine. XD And yes, I got your comment! Just need to answer it. 😉


  10. In a way, your post made me me smile with the fondest of exasperated memories. One of the most treasured positions I have had was as the assistant children’s librarian. I too had to take my turn at the circulation desk, and have heard all of these responses. Generally with great patience and humor most all patrons realized their forgetfulness within their busy lives. And some not so much. Very funny post, as well as a great reminder to always keep your books in a book bag, and your checkout receipt in there as well!


  11. Great post Geanie. I was a teacher librarian and I dealt with this all the time. Sometimes we found a book on the shelf as it had not been scanned in, but that was very seldom.


        • Hi Carla, I kow I should leave your comment as is, but to be honest I had to stifle a snort of laughter at the thought of the teens quietly reading. While I’m sure some of them come to enjoy the books, most do not. They gather to socialize, play computer games and say silly things on the intercom. We love them – in a way – and try to provide programs and activities for them, but it can be a challenge. For the most part we hope they will just grow up and have positive memories of books and the library.
          Sometimes I long for the days of quiet libraries, but things have definitely changed. The library is fighting to stay relevant, and must adapt to new circumstances. Thanks for the comment!


          • I totally get it. They were the same way at school, I tried to get them to read more, but you are right, they wanted to socialize and use the computers. Some of them were readers so I know how you feel.


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