Monday, July 21, 2014

Library Tip: Oh no my dog pooped on the library's puzzle. Now what?

That title is a true story. Just after I handed my application for the Library Aide job, our dog decided to poop on a puzzle we borrowed from the library. What kills me about the whole thing was, he had his choice of two puzzles. One we just picked up at a garage sale for $1 and the other from the library. There was nothing more embarrassing than going to the library and saying, "What if my dog pooped on your puzzle. What now?" After replacing the puzzle and a processing fee, I thought they would never hire me for the job.

Two years later I use this story all the time when someone comes in with an item that has been destroyed by a pet or child or self. People always seem to feel much better after they hear about my own dog's misdeeds.

We're not always so lucky in the library with people owning up to damage that has been done to books or items. One time while pulling books out of the drop box, I noticed that some of them were wet and smelled. You can only imagine my horror when I place the smell to pet urine. I must have washed my hands 20 times that day. And all of the other books that mingled with the bad books and the countertops and well, just about everything I saw.

I couldn't believe that someone would return books that had pet urine on it to the drop box and think nothing of it. Or even the safety of other patrons. The sad part was, they tried blaming a random animal doing it after they dropped off the books.

Just the past week I had my own mishap with a popular book that just came out. I was the first person to read it at the library. A glass of water, a quick movement and lots of cursing followed when I discovered that the brand new, never used library book was damaged.

As you can see, I got about a quarter of the book wet. So I thought I should just buy a new one and replace it. Imagine my surprise (after working here two years) that they said it was OK and noted that it had some damage.

After that I thought, what a great subject for the blog. What to do when a library item gets damaged. So here goes...

Library tips for damaged books:
  • If you get a tear (anything under .25") please don't fix it at home. Our repair gal has special tape that's used for the book. Even if you kids or yourself tears a few pages out by accident, bring it in. Most likely we can make the fix. Only the worst of the worst has been asked to be replaced, like the whole book being pulled from the spine.
  • If you get a book and then all of the sudden, the spine gives out and large chunks fall out. Don't worry, we won't blame you. When you return the book, make sure to let us know what happened. Binding and glue isn't as good as it once was so things tend to break down faster nowadays. Also, older books that get read a lot tend to break.
  • Water damage is a fine line and different with each library. Make sure to bring the book in and ask if they would like it replaced. Most times, the library will say it's OK. Unless it's the whole book that's damaged or a wine stain. That's tougher to read through.
  • We have also noticed that puppies love books. If your puppy gets a hold of your book, it's best to bring in. Sometimes we can repair the damage but most times the book is beyond repair. Their little teeth really seem to know how to get a book apart from it's spine.
  • If a book or item has come in contact with urine or other bodily functions, we would prefer you kept the book at home. No need to show us the damage. It's easier to replace the item.
Now, some library tips for when the book is beyond repair:
  • Your library will tell you if the book is beyond repair. I learned this lesson myself when I through the book I had dropped water on was ruined. My tip, take it to the library first to see what they think. I bought the replacement book first and the store refused to take it back since I could have read it and then tried to return it. That was a deep sigh moment!
  • Libraries also prefer if you brought in a new book to replace the one that was destroyed. Honestly, it's cheaper that way too. With Amazon and B&N and other stores you can find the book cheaper than you would have to pay at the library. We charge you what the original price was for the book. Also, when you write a check for the book that was damaged, there is no guarantee that they will be able to replace the damaged book. The funds go into a big pot, not to the specific book that you paid for. That's why we like it when you replace the book.
  • When replacing the book, make sure it's not used or from the budget bin. You'll see a black or red mark on the pages. Libraries typically don't take books from the budget bin. They want the book to be brand new.
  • Finally, the libraries in our system charge a processing fee. This fee covers the tape, barcode, and time to get the new book back into the system. We charge $5 to process, others are $3 and I even seen some at $7. Please don't get made about the fee it goes to help pay for the costs of replacing it in the system.

Most important, don't feel bad about the damage. I have seen it all when it comes to damaged items and most of the time people are so embarrassed they don't want to say anything. Have no fear, your dog hasn't pooped on the library puzzle at the place you were hoping to get a job at. See, it can't be as bad at that.

Happy (repair free) reading!

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