Library 101 – Oh no! I lost a book! I damaged a book! Aaah!

I have a confession to make. My dog ate a library book, and my daughter spilled chocolate milk all over a library book. It happens to all of us. We completely understand. At the library, our goal is to create lifetime library users. We don’t want to scare anybody away. If there is ever a situation with any item you’ve checked out with us, please come talk to us. You can ask to speak directly to a librarian if you would like. We are happy to try to resolve any issue so that you can continue to be one of our loyal customers. Here are some problems that we see a lot at the library and ways that we can work together to fix them.

  1. I’ve lost a book!!!: This happens a lot, especially with children’s books. They get mixed up in your collection at home. They get sent to school instead of the library. They get left behind on a trip. If you’ve lost a book, the first step I would recommend is to renew the item. This gives you three more weeks to look for it. This also prevents you from getting charged overdue fines in the meantime. After you’ve exhausted all your searching at home, come speak to us in the library. We are happy to search our shelves for items and see if it somehow got missed.
  2. I swear I turned that book in!!!: We treat this very much like a lost book. We will ask you to renew the item and search your house again. We will also check our shelves and make sure the item is not there. Oftentimes, the customer finds the item at home once they are given more time to look. If all of these fail, please come talk to us because we do have methods to keep you from getting charged overdue fines as everyone waits for the book to appear. I have seen books returned to us many years after they were declared missing. I even found one book in a pile of donations that were given to the library that was missing for two years from our shelves.
  3. I’ve damaged a book!!!: Trust me, you are not the only one. We will not hold a grudge against you if a book gets damaged in your care. If the book is soaking wet, please do not just put it in our book drop. It will damage other books. The best thing to do is come talk to us about it. That allows us to assess the damage and decide what needs to be done.
  4. I checked an item out that was already damaged or missing a disc!!!: This does happen from time to time. Sometimes, people spill something on a book while in the library and just put it back on the shelf without telling anybody. Sometimes, people take DVD’s out of the cases in the library, put the disc in our computers, and forget to return them. Again, I ask that you please come talk to us when something like this has happened to you. If you just drop the item in our book drop, the person checking in the item will assume the last person who checked it out caused the problem.

The big lesson to take away from all of this is please come talk to us when you have a problem. You can ask to speak to a supervisor. We will be happy to help you figure this out. You may be asked to pay for the item, or you may be given permission to replace the item yourself. Our goal in doing this is to get that item back on the shelf so kids can continue to enjoy it. My job as a children’s librarian is to keep my collection in the best shape possible so that it can serve the most people in the community. Another important part of my job is to help your family continue to have a relationship with the library. Don’t let one scary moment of damaging a book keep you from coming back. We want to continue to see you even in the baby tossed a book in the toilet (that totally happened, by the way!).


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Miss Angie

I am a children's librarian at SCPL's Canyon Country Library. My favorite things are funny books, ice cream, and the Matterhorn at Disneyland.

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