how libraries encourage your kids to read… or not


So, I have been kicked out of our local public library. When I tell people, they wait for the punchline, but there isn’t one. We’ve really and truly been asked not to return. We had taken a break from the library because we had been having some issues with losing books. Them, not us. The 4th time I received a notice about not returning a book I had, indeed, returned, I was reluctant to pay for it. It was not that I did not have the $3.95 to replace Curious George’s Ice Cream Shop, it was the fact that I kept having to pay to replace books I had returned. I’ve had library cards in every place I’ve lived, including the big city of Boston and the tiny, little island library in Islesboro, Maine. I got my first library card when I was 6 and since then have held a library card wherever I’ve lived and I’ve lived in many places. I’m not telling you how old I am, but let’s just say that amounts to several decades of library use with no problems. Until now. I loved taking my kids to the very library where I got my first library card. There was history in the stacks and it felt good.
I did approach the librarian to express my concerns, but my concerns were dismissed. Therefore, we took a break. As a teacher, I get a library card that is good at several surrounding libraries, so we were still able to attend story times and check out books (books we returned with no problems) – we just missed the sense of community in our own small library. Which is why, after a several month hiatus, we went back to our own library so my 4 year old could attend a special event with some of her cousins. And we were promptly told that our privileges were revoked until we paid for Curious George’s Ice Cream Shop. Not only that, but in case the public tongue lashing was not sufficient, the library director sent a certified letter to my home to officially “revoke all lending privileges.” The irony is that the book cost $3.95 while the certified letter cost $6.11 to mail. I am not feeling the love!
The kids and I just got back from the other library, the one where we still are allowed to check out books, and I am watching the three of them as they curl up on the couch on a stormy summer day to read. Sam devours the Oliver Moon series. Maggie is very into Minerva Louise and Fancy Nancy. Moira likes the Ivy and Bean books and just started Caddie Woodlawn. And me, the English teacher…. Well, you see, my library privileges have been revoked.


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