Where are your Library Books?

How’s your back-to-school list coming along?

Me? I’m close…sort of.

School supplies? Check.

Textbooks? Half-check. We have some, still need to find/order the others.

Haircuts? Another half-check. Daughter trimmed her hair last week; my son hasn’t cut his hair since October (long story) and refuses to get his trim (his school has a hair requirement for boys, and his current ‘do is too long) until the last possible moment.

New socks? Check.

Uniforms? Waiting for the used-uniform sale next week.

Lunch kits? Check.

Backpacks? Check. Using the ones from last year.

What am I missing?

Oh! Daughter needs new reeds for her sax. Add it to the list.

I’m certain there will be other items that crop up in the next few days and weeks, some of which will surprise me and some I should’ve remembered (I’ve been doing this back to school thing for a while now…) but somehow let slip.

Part of me loves this whole sprint to go back to school. It feels great to get organized, have everything we need, and clean ourselves up a little. By the end of this past school year, daughter was down to one single uniform skirt, and the hem was held in place by duct tape. I wish I were kidding. I mean, not that anyone had to know, but it just feels good to start the year prepared.

When you don't have time to hem . . . let duct tape do the work!
When you don’t have time to hem . . . let duct tape do the work!

Disinterest doesn’t even begin to describe my son when it comes to all the back to school preparations; daughter, however, cares a little about colored pens and binder size. Either way, gearing up for school to start also give us something to do. Don’t get me wrong, my kids would be willing to have summer last a lifetime, and yet, it is really hot here. We’ve baked seemingly a million cupcakes and played a million video games and watched a million movies. Making them sharpie their names into lunchkits and uniform shirts and organize their desk and closet fills a long, hot summer day.

I was thinking about the back to school list this morning, and as I got into my car to take my daughter to her week-long summer job, I spied this:

booksin car

This is my little pile of books that I need to take back to our local library. I put these in the car last night so when I was out and about today, I’d remember to return them. I like to return my books on time (but am not always successful); I’m a librarian.

And then I wondered: do public librarians receive the same excuses for unreturned books as school librarians? Students often say things like:

~ My Mom forgot to put my books in my backpack.

"My dog ate my library book."
“My dog ate my library book.”

~ My dog ate my library book.

~ I left my books at my <insert person’s name here: friend’s, neighbor’s, mother’s, father’s, grandmother’s, etc.> house and I haven’t been able to get them back yet.

~ My library book is in Galveston. I was reading it on the beach and left it there.

~ The people who clean our house moved it somewhere.

Librarians hear it all. And, many of us aren’t so different. I’ve lost library books. I left one on an airplane once. We’re all human. Unless a book is hugely popular and other people are waiting to check it out, I don’t really care if a book isn’t returned. It’s not about the book or control, no, that’s not the issue at all. If a child doesn’t return her books, she usually can’t check out new ones. And if you don’t already know, I’m a firm believer in lots and lots and lots of exposure to tons and tons and tons of books of every size, shape, and variety.

So this is what I often say to students who time after time cannot seem to locate and return their books:

Raise your hand if you’re wearing socks. <Pretty much all hands go up in the air.>

Raise your hand if you put on your socks by yourself this morning. <Again, all the hands are up.>

Raise your hand if you knew where to look for these socks – do you have a special spot in your house where you keep your socks? <Depending on the age, hands still usually go up. Sometimes older kids will make wise cracks of some ilk, but generally, this works.>

Well, guess what? Just like you have a particular spot for your socks, you might also consider a special spot for your library books!

Are you a classroom teacher, thinking about a few back to school activities and projects for the first week of school? Are you a parent, trudging through these last few hot and steamy days of summer, looking for a little something for your kiddos to do?

Locate a box or bag or plastic tub or whatever might work for you and declare it the place where your library books live. Next (and this is, of course, my favorite part), get creative. Stickers, yarn, paint, markers, sequins! Give your container some color and sparkle. Make a mess and make it your own!

Now then. This. This is where your library books live. Just like your socks have a home, so do your library books. And when it is your day for library, you can easily find your books, return them, and check out more so that you always . . .

Keep Reading,


Contact me at fplweb (at) frontporchlibrarian dot com

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