Points for variety…

Back in March, at the start of quarantine, the LA Library elected to do away with late fees. This decision seemed to be as much for practical purposes as it was a gesture of noblesse: for several months, no one could return books, so it would have been rather shabby to charge fees for it. An email went out assuring library patrons that if you had books already checked out you could keep them fee-free until the libraries were operating again.

At the time, I’d felt very lucky: I’d checked out a stack of huge books- only four or five in total, but each two to three inches thick- but I’d been too busy to read them. Suddenly, I had plenty of time- both in which to read and in which to have read the books staring back at me from my To Be Read pile. I took my time, and enjoyed them guilt free.

Then I finished them. And suddenly I could see the table-top where my To Be Read pile once sat. The library announced that they would be opening a few select branches for a Library-to-Go program: if you had had a book on hold before the pandemic began, you could arrange an Appointment to pick it up in a discreet paper bag with the most minimal amount of human contact possible.

I did have a book on hold left over from March. Going to the library to pick it up felt like an Outing. Coming back home with a new book to read was a positively giddy feeling. I immediately went online and began adding books to my Holds list: recommendations from my book club at work, recommendations to become more anti-racist, books I saw featured online or heard about from friends, books recommended by my therapist.

So many books.

Many of the books had long wait times- several had waiting lists in the teens of people lined up for them before me. I figured I might as well put everything I was interested on the holds list and just take them as they came. Which worked out great- until they really started to come.

“How many books are you picking up?” The Curmudgeonly Lion would ask.

“Two.” I’d say.

“And how many are you returning?”


“That’s a net of +one!” He would howl in mock dismay, knowing, as he did, that there was a growing stack of books TBR on the bookshelf at home already.

“I’m TRYING!” I would protest in similarly dry tones.

My last trip to the library was the first week where I returned exactly as many books as I picked up. Today will be my first time returning MORE books than I pick up. Partly because one of them is overdue. Nothing like a deadline.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on October 16, 2020.

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