The relationship between myself and the public library has been a somewhat tumultuous one over the years, with many more negatives than positives, although this has been entirely my fault, and like a bad couple who seem to keep breaking up and getting back together, so it is with me and the library, thinking each new time will be different, but so far that has never been the case. There was the Little Rock Public library, the one I grew up visiting, a relationship that started off great as I spent summers throughout childhood checking out as many books as they would allow and returning back countless times for more, but as I got older things changed. I would check out books that seemed interesting at the time and then more often than not I would get distracted with something else and end up not reading them, which wouldn’t have been a problem at all had I remembered to return the books. By the time I left Arkansas to go to college in Minnesota I had racked up over seventy dollars in fees from the library, but my mom bailed me out, giving me a fresh start when I decided to venture into the world of checking out books again.
I stayed away from the library for a few years until I moved to Florida, but the allure of unlimited books drew me back in and I fell into my old habits once again. I didn’t accrue as many fines for not returning books, the total being less than five dollars, and I really did intend on doing the right and responsible thing of paying for my transgressions, but as it turned out, the Fort Pierce library didn’t accept debit cards, they were cash only, which posed a problem for me as I have never been one in adulthood to carry cash on me. A kind stranger overheard the dilemma as I stood at the counter explaining to the librarian that I would have to return to pay my fines after visiting an ATM, and the stranger intervened saying she would pay the fine for me. I had hit rock bottom. I tried to dissuade the generous woman from freeing me from my debt, but she wouldn’t hear of it, no matter how much I pleaded, and eventually, against my will, paid my fine. It was at that moment that I decided I was done with the public library system, preferring instead to purchase books so that I could read what I wanted on my own time, building a personal library that would allow me to choose whatever book interested me as soon as I was ready to read something new. Then I moved to Memphis and the library bug bit me again.
Within the first month of living here I got a library card, you know, just to have one, but I stuck to my guns and for more than a year I didn’t check out a single book. I had all but forgotten about my library card, that is until today. The bank I work at can be pretty slow in the middle of the week with the higher traffic days being Monday and Friday, so to pass the time I will often read until a customer enters the branch, which is what I was doing today, but unfortunately I finished my current book with more than five hours left in my shift, and the temptation to check out a book became to much to resist, so on my lunch break I walked across the parking lot to the library and began browsing the infinite selection of books. I did check out a book, but at least it was only one, telling myself that I would read it, then immediately return it before checking out another. Hopefully this time around I’ll be more responsible and my relationship with the public library will be better than ever before. Only time will tell.