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The Brand New Library Book That Stressed Me Out!

March 29, 2014
It looks harmless, maybe even inviting, but checking out a brand new library book can turn into a high stake situation!

It looks harmless, maybe even inviting, but checking out a brand new library book can turn into a high stake situation!

Opening an old library book is like being the first cop at the crime scene; you’re never sure what you’re going to find. You might find pages ripped, folded, or even torn out. Pages can be water damaged (at least we hope it’s water). Red stains can be blood or catsup or both. Brown stains can be… I don’t want to talk about it. And those tiny yellow-green pieces of debris that stick to the pages? Ugh. I wash my hands a lot after reading old library books.

But new library books are different. New library books are exciting. The books themselves are flawless and unblemished. There won’t be any water damage, or folded pages, or red stains, or green-yellow specks that stick to the pages. I might not have to wash my hands immediately after reading a brand new book from the library.

And today I checked out a brand new book from the library! At first, I felt great about my selection. It’s a recently published book, a bestseller. I’m kind of interested in it. I don’t have to pay anything to read it. There probably won’t be any unpleasant, unsanitary surprises waiting for me. But then I realized something.

Being the first to check out a brand new library book can be a high-pressure situation. If anything happens to the book, I’ll get blamed. I can’t drink coffee or eat spaghetti around the book. I can’t fold the corners of the pages as bookmarks. I can’t walk outside in the rain with it. I can’t let anybody in my family do those things either. It’s my responsibility to return the book in the pristine condition in which I checked it out. If I were the third (or even the second) person to check out the book, I could blame somebody else for any new blemishes. I would have plausible deniability. But when you’re the first person to check out a library book, there is no deniability.

I gave a speech to my family about how to treat the new library book. It was a guest in our house. The librarians and future book readers would judge us by the condition of the book when we return it to the library. Nobody else was to touch the book, I declared. Nobody was to move the book, breathe on the book, not even look at the book. Nobody else was supposed to be in the same room as the book (except me). If our house caught on fire, my family was instructed to rescue the library book first, and then the dog and the family pictures.

I had a couple close calls with this brand new book. As I was reading, I felt a sneeze coming. In a nick of time, I tossed (but did not throw) the book to the couch on my right, and then I sneezed to my left. I washed my hands afterward and returned to the book. The next reader to check out this book might not appreciate my efforts, but I did what was necessary.

Later, somebody in my family left a cup of fruit drink next to the brand new library book. When I asked who had done such a careless thing, nobody would confess. I was outraged! Somebody had snuck into the room where the brand new library book rested, in clear violation of the orders that I had given, and placed the cup within spillage range of the book. If the cup had been knocked over, the brand new book would have been drenched in purple. I couldn’t have returned a brand new book drenched in purple to the library. I would rather have paid for the book than suffer the humiliation of returning a brand new book drenched in purple. It would have come out of somebody’s allowance, I can promise you that.

I don’t like these high-pressure situations. I try to avoid them as much as I can. My heart rate goes up, and I don’t think clearly. Book reading should be relaxing. I don’t want to be tense when I read a book (unless the book itself is so good that I get tense). I don’t get like this when I’m reading brand new books that I myself purchase. After all, I treat my own books casually. I use them as coasters, paper weights, and back scratchers. They’re my books. I can do with them as I please. I might read them again, but I probably won’t. I have my limits, though. I don’t bleed on my books, and I don’t fold the corners as book marks, and I have never rubbed anything green-yellow onto my own (or anyone else’s) books. I pride myself on good hygiene.

After getting stressed out, I realized there was only one thing I could do. I locked the brand new library book in a safe until I’m at a point where I can read it some more or return it to the library. Now the book is safe from sneezing noses, coughing mouths, bleeding hands, and fingers that like to rip and fold. It’s even safe from fire. I just hope I can remember the safe’s combination.

  1. Definitely, keeping the library book outside the SR (spilling range) and away from all blood is good advice. Helpful hint: when you return the library book all messed up, tell them that your dog did it.

    • Thanks for the advice, but I have two daughters, and they’ve learned that nobody stays mad at them for very long. If I really need somebody to take the blame, they’re there for me. But I really want to preserve the library book. It’s so shiny!

  2. By the way, don’t check out any of the 50 Shades books from the library (I’m pretty sure you don’t want to anyway, but in case you do) – a lot of them carry herpes virus on them, according to some studies.

    • That would be a cruddy way to get a virus. You conduct your personal life in a safe manner, and then you get a virus from a book? I’d feel cheated.

      • I wouldn’t call it “cheated” – you get the book AND the virus. It’s more like a 2-for-1 deal.

  3. Did you stop to consider the proper method of breaking-in a new book? If not done correctly, it will break the binding. You don’t want the broken binding of a brand new book on your conscience.

    • Ugh, the binding. Luckily, the brand new library book is thin, and I turn pages delicately with both hands, balancing the book so it isn’t opened too widely.

  4. Imagine how happy librarians would be every new book was handled that way. I get the same kind of stress when riding the bus. I work in a place that has mostly new, really nice, busses. Some of the seats face each other and sometimes people will put their feet up on the empty seat in front of them right below a sign that says “do not put your feet on the seat.” I want to go to their home and walk on their furniture with my muddy slushy boots.

    • That would be frustrating, but I know that sometimes people just don’t see signs (especially when the signs are telling people NOT to do something they want to do). I don’t know how many times I’ve slammed myself into a door with a sign that says “Please use other…”

      • But does someone need a sign to know not to put your wet muddy boots on a place where people will sit? Unless of course they were raised by wolves. But that demographic is pretty small.

  5. Amy permalink

    As a librarian this made me laugh, and I appreciate that you took such good care for your book. However, even I have returned a new book that was now colored pink down the side from an accidental drink spillage as a bottle open in the bag I was carrying the book in with. Accidents happen and book are meant to be read. I did offer to pay for the book, but my boss told me not to worry about it as long as the book is still readable we were cool. However I have had patrons afraid to return books that say their dog ate, they were going to go out and buy a new book. DON’T do that, just come in as explain what happen and offer to replace the book. Libraries get their books for cheaper than the public does and the replacement price we charge you is going to be less than retail. We understand these things happen, and a good librarian shouldn’t rake you over the coals for an accident.

    • Buying a new book to replace the one that has been ruined? That’s very dedicated and a lot of work, especially putting that transparent plastic wrap (with a name that I probably should know but can’t think of right now) over the cover. I’d rather just say that I’d lost the book. But I’m glad to know that libraries can purchase books more cheaply than the average person. If I ruin a book, that might make it easier to confess.

  6. Reblogged this on karen alyse – unconditionally me and commented:
    So great xD

  7. They should have trained professional check out new books for the first time, just to avoid the stress on people. I once had a friend loan a book from me and then his mother dropped it in the bath. That’s probably the worst that could happen though.

    • Maybe if a librarian would fold a page corner or dab a couple drops of water on a page, ahead of time, I wouldn’t feel so stressed out trying to return a book in pristine condition.

  8. Mythoughts76 permalink

    Now you know why I buy my books at library book sales and flea markets! LOL

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