Thursday, October 07, 2010

the library card blues


Despite owning enough children's books to open our own lending library (this isn't even all of them), the kids and I went down to the local library on Monday to get some fresh things to read, complete with our two items showing proof of residency. The city where we moved requires a hefty deposit paid in person just to turn on the water, so if my stepfather hadn't gone downtown for us, we would have shown up at the new house at 1am with no water. Apparently all the city services are so used to being abused and taken advantage of that they don't know how to react to decent folks who don't skip town owing hundreds of dollars.

In the past 3 years we have lived in 4 states: North Carolina, Maryland, Maine, and back to Virginia and have encountered the library policies in several towns in those localities. The Montgomery County, Maryland library system gave me grief for wanting to know the titles my children had out so we could scour the house and return them, because I was violating Will and Mary's "privacy rights". We resolved the situation by getting a household card with a 100 book limit, which is about how many books a family of 8 can carry out the door. The three libraries we frequent in Maine are very generous with their checkouts, I don't think any had a limit as long as you didn't owe any fines. But the library here has a 30 book limit per card, which is not very many when you are counting up picture books or short chapter paperback series, such as The Boxcar Children. So, after only 4 days we were back at the branch library to renew our stash only to find half way through checking out out that we hit the limit. I said, "Well, we will just get Charlie a card," but found out that we need to show all the proof of residency yet again (sorry, I don't store the power and gas bills in my purse). I'm of a mind to get every child their own card the next time we go in so our household limit will be 240 books just to irritate the powers that be at the library.

Homeschoolers as a general rule are more responsible with materials than the average Joe, check out more books, and return them more promptly. I will also write a letter to the library board asking for a large family/homeschool option to check out more than a skimpy 30 book stack limit currently in place.   

7 comments:

Michelle said...

Bill took the kids to the local library and got everybody cards. It's a small place. There is another library about 20 minutes away - larger - that will give cards to military ID holders for no fee. We happened to be in the area, so I went in, all 6 in tow. I asked the librarian for a form to get a card, she gives me one but says nothing else (I had all 6 kids hovering around me). After I fill it out, and wait in line, she types the info in and THEN goes over the policies, including the rule that you can only check out FIVE books at a time for the first 3 weeks (I guess they've had problems with thefts by new card holders? It's not far from a local college.). I didn't have the time or inclination to repeat the fill-out-the-form-and-stand-in-line procedure, so one kid didn't get a book...and the others were agast at the one book limit. What was she thinking?

SmallWorld at Home said...

Great post--thanks for submitting to the carnival. I have to admit--I would be terrified to have that many library books in my house at once!

Susannah said...

Where my sister lives, they let homeschoolers get a "teachers card" where you can get more books and videos for longer lenths of time. I am green with envy, as we seem to always need books longer than 3 weeks.

~*~The Family~*~ said...

We have no limit and can renew them online for up to nine weeks if they haven't been requested. I am not nearly organized enough to have a book limit!

Brian Brown said...

Living in Anne Arundel county MD allows homeschoolers to check out for 6 weeks with 3 renewals if necessary. At first we were finding many types of materials; seasonal, holidays and unit based studies regularly checked out. Now we check out early with the benefit of the longer check out period.

Samantha said...

What a bummer! We have a fabulous library close to us. Not only was I allowed to get a teacher's card, there doesn't seem to be a limit on the number of books. I've had a LOT of stuff out at one time, too!

Samantha

Tina said...

Let me just tell you I returned over 30 books today, renewed 10 that missed the calling to go back into the library (I thought we were traveling light) and checked out 25 plus. I want to know how can anyone walk into a library and walk away with 1 or 2 books. We sure can not. My kids are in wonder of all they can learn. I wish the library you visit would realize this. - What a shame.