Librarian Emphasizes the Importance of Returning Books

A book three months overdue is considered "lost"

By Lee Wells

When is a Library not a Library?

Here is a riddle for you.  When is a library not a library?  Answer: when people don’t bring books back. Libraries can only work if books circulate.

When we switched from our old software to the new circulation and cataloging software, we received lists of all the overdue books in the new database, and the point was really driven home to us just how many overdue books we have.  We are talking about hundreds of books, more than both libraries purchase in a year.  Not returning books keeps books out of patrons hands and impacts the libraries financially.

We realize that people are not maliciously hoarding, destroying, or keeping books.  We understand that books get lost, they slide under beds, they find their way under couch cushions, they get left in an airplane or in a hotel, they get tossed out accidently, they get dropped in the sink, or the new puppy chews them up.  We understand that these things happen to most, if not all, of us at some point. However, the person who signs the books out of the library (or their parent) is responsible for returning them, and if they can’t be returned or they are severely damaged, then they should be replaced.

We are not judging you, don’t be embarrassed or ashamed, these things happen, just do the right thing!

We will try to contact people who have overdue books (after carefully checking our shelves to make sure they aren’t here in our libraries.) If we do contact you, please make a good faith search for the book.  Hopefully, you’ll find it and return it.  If you can’t find it, please let us know, and we can figure out how to best proceed from there. If the book is an older title, we’ll ask you to make a modest donation to the library.  If it is a newer book, part of a series, or a popular older book, we will ask you to replace it. (Please let us order the book for you, as a library we usually get a good discount.)

Our primary goal is to get books back in the library so others can check them out. Our secondary goal is to “clear” your account.  Our new software considers a book that is over three months overdue to be lost, and a special notification (i.e. a lock) is placed on that account. 

So, let’s get books back in circulation, clear up people’s accounts, and get off to a great start with our new software.

Remember: Read, Return, Repeat!