Newbie Ms. D found a frozen book within our after-hours book return. I don't mean the book was merely very cold. No, this stout paperback book had first been soaked through to its very core in what I can only pray is water, and then placed in the book return where the overnight temperatures froze it solid, creating a bookcicle.
By the time I saw the book, it had thawed somewhat but was still quite icy inside. I wondered who would dare to do such a thing as allow one of our books to become soaked and then return it in that form. No doubt they would claim that it had become wet after being placed in our book return, despite the fact that no other books in there were the least bit damp. (Perhaps it had been frozen solid before being placed in the book return?)
I scanned the book's barcode and looked up the last patron to have checked it out. It was one of the children of the Twohy family (not their real names) who are longtime patrons of the "liberry." I was somehow not surprised. This is not to say that the Twohy's are "bad" or even troublesome patrons. They're actually very nice people, but have, all the same, proven to be problematic patrons on occasion. They're an enormous family, each of whom has their own library card but none of whom can actually keep up with it. For a while we were selling them new cards every week, before threatening to charge them five times the going rate if they didn't cut it out. So instead of buying new cards, they just grab any library card they can find and bring it in regardless of whether it's actually their own card. Often they get all the way to the library and find they have a dead card that has already been replaced. We throw it away and they start over. But if they do manage to get a working card in, we can go ahead and check items to them for all the cards are linked.
I hated to pile yet another charge on them, but book destruction of this magnitude could not go unfined. I made a note on the book itself, explaining who had had it last, and left it for my superiors to decide what to do about it.
A week went by during which the book remained untouched in the pile of books the librarians are supposed to make rulings on. It barely dried out at all.
One afternoon, Ma Twohy paid us a visit. Before I could bring up the subject of the frozen book, Ma Twohy said she had a few books and some DVDs she'd like to donate. In fact, she had them in the car. I said, sure, we'd have a look at them. I expected a small box of crappy DVDs and ratty books, but Ma Twohy actually brought in two laundry baskets full of DVDs, all in pristine condition, all of medium to high quality as far as content goes. It was a huge windfall for our fairly small DVD collection and I readily accepted them on the "liberry's" behalf.
I decided not to bring up the frozen book. In fact, after Ma Twohy left, I removed the notes from their card, forgave the fine on the frozen book and deleted it from the computer entirely. We normally don't accept trades in book replacement, but we were clearly on the better end of this deal. And I wasn't convinced Ma Twohy hadn't brought us all these things to make up for one of her kids turning in a soaked book.