Yesterday my son told me he had just renewed a library book on line. Had he told me he discovered the cure to migraines, I couldn’t have been more dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe such a thing was possible. Immediately I went on line to my account, called up my name, which, of course, had the word Delinquent stamped next to it. I renewed my book, and the delinquent sign went away. I was incredulous.
Since I was a child I’ve been in possession of an overdue book. When you have an overdue book, there comes a point at which you have to troop down to the librarian and pay the fee. Yes, you can stick the book in the return slot, but still comes the day, when you want to take out your next book, that you have to make amends. You have to go to the librarian, she takes out the calendar and totes up the days late you are. She’s always perfectly pleasant, but she looks disappointed. Then you take out the change and she takes out the metal box, which, when she opens it, reverberates throughout the library. Patrons lift their heads and they know.
The last book I’ve been reading has been causing me a particular level of agita. It’s Joseph Lash’s biography of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and it’s easily 1,000 pages long. I love it, I read it every day, but no matter what I do, I can’t speed up my pace. I’m halfway through and the book is a month overdue and I’ve been in a quandary. I figured if I went to renew it, they’d take it away from me. So I decided I’d soldier on, finish the book, and pay the fees when I was done. But knowing I’m paying five cents a day is taking pleasure away from reading. Plus, I assumed I couldn’t take out any other books until I resolved this one, which was cutting back on research for my novel. (This is why I don’t write blogs more frequently. Because I’m preoccupied with things like this.)
What a miracle then that I could renew Franklin and Eleanor on line. Turns out, it didn’t matter that it was overdue, so long as it wasn’t $25 overdue. I was so thrilled I immediately put five other books on hold. This is going to end unhappily. I feel sure of it. In two months time I’ll be sitting around with six overdue books and I’ll only be halfway through World War II. But thank you Westchester Library System. You’ve brought me great joy!