Today when I was checking in returned items I found a paper with a hand written list for the symptoms of COVID.  Hmmm.

For the last few weeks I have been physically checking each juvenile book that we have.  Yep, I take them off the shelf and thumb through each one.  Before the juvenile section, I had done the YA section where I found one crisp dollar, a DC comic trading card, a really unique joker card (that is now forever missing from a deck of super cool cards) and a mass amount of bookmarks. 

“Inspired” by my recent findings, I knew what I was going to write about today, even before I found the COVID list.  I am not worried about the things you leave behind, well at least not the bookmarks and money.  I am concerned about the other things you leave behind, the gross things, the yucky or what one of my staff refers to as the “blood and boogers.”  So, today we are going to talk about how you care for the library’s materials while they are in your possession. 

People know that librarians cringe over folded pages (the lazy man’s bookmark).  Honestly, this is the least of my concern.

You know what I cringe over?  Water stains, unidentifiable stains (blood and boogers), smoke stains and smells, food smears, dirty finger marks, toilet paper bookmarks, bugs, etc.  Gross.  In fact, sometimes when I mark a book with the previous listed issues, I just want to put the word gross. 

Sometimes these items are replaced by the patron, because we all can realize that messes and mistakes happen.  Other times, just the wear, age and amount of checkouts take a toll on items, then we either let that item go or we replace them.  The bad part is not all things can be replaced, so it is important that we practice good habits with the items we check out. 

What I recommend: pick up a bookmark from our circulation desk, don’t drink or eat when reading a book, never leave items on a surface that might eventually have drinks or food on them, don’t smoke (for your health and the health of the book), wash your hands before you read (wash your hands always, again for your health and the health of the book), maybe don’t read in the bathroom (extended sitting on the toilet is not healthy for you either), don’t smash that scary bug with our material, basically treat your checked out material like you hope others might enjoy it as much as you did.   

Juvenile books, so far, are some of the dirtiest books I have gone through; dirty fingers.  What we have discovered is the type of reader is reflected in the wear and damage of a book.  Juvenile and board books are some of the first books that kids really read and handle on their own.  Board book readers are pretty little, we can’t expect them to understand the rules, so parents you need to pay attention.  Juvenile readers are just at that age where wiping your nose on your sleeve is the most natural thing, so again, parents, help us out.  Adult books are the biggest culprits when it comes to spills, I get it, a cup of your favorite beverage and a read seems like a great peaceful moment, well, you do get the rules, so be careful!

We will continue to quarantine items, obviously with that COVID list, it is called for.  We will continue to look at all our books during inventory and when checked in.  We will continue to have you replace anything you leave your permanent mark on (DNA included).  We will still be sad when a great item meets its last days, may we just hope that that time is after multiple checkouts and just regular wear and tear.  Please practice good habits and keep on reading. 

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