Monday, June 05, 2006

Dead book

Delightful story from a grad school classmate, who works at an unnamed university library in an unnamed midwestern city:

A student called me to ask about replacing a damaged book (students can't graduate unless they return their overdue books or replace them). He wanted to know how much it would cost to replace a book with a damaged cover. Since I repair books, too, I know that books with damaged covers, even ones with the cover off the text block or the cover in three or four pieces, can still be fixed. So I asked him some questions about the kind of damage the book had, all the while reassuring him that I've fixed many books that were in terrible shape. I kept trying to get him to tell me exactly what what was wrong with the book but he avoided the questions. Finally he decided to tell me what happened.

"Well, it was the last day of classes and my buddies and I are all graduating seniors, right? So we decided to go and blow off some steam. Ummm, we went to the range at Fernwood Park…"

"The shooting range?"

"Yeah. We took our textbooks. I accidentally took one of your library books along and…"

"You shot it?"

"Yeah. But I didn't mean to."

I couldn't help it. I started laughing. I also had to admit that was something I couldn't fix.

* A moment of silence here in memory of the books that were lost that day. *

I made him promise to bring the damaged book back to the library when he came to pay for the replacement. When he brought it in the next day, the entire staff was waiting. It was just the funniest thing ever. He couldn't believe we weren't totally honked off about it. Honestly, we'd spent the day before thinking of titles in the collection that we would gladly have contributed to the event.

Anyway, the book is sitting on my desk. For the record, he's a really
bad shot.

One of the wonderful things about this story (aside from the fact that it's hilarious) is that the library staff were not only gracious, but had a great sense of humor about the whole incident. I would imagine this student has a great story of his own, about how the librarians were totally cool. And how fabulous is that?


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