Normally when school starts we start thinking, talking, and planning fall activities. Like everyone else, we have been dumb-founded with the summer-like weather we continue to have, which makes it hard to shift into a different mindset. Summer clothing, sandals, and air conditioning continue while garden work has lapsed…no cleaning of beds seems to be in order….yet.

It’s around the corner, we know it. Flower and vegetable gardens have needed steady watering all summer. Corn fields have given up the wait for the much needed rainfall, and soybean fields just seem to be dormant. It’s another strange year, first with too much, then too little rainfall.

Sometimes the library is like that. During the summer months, we seem to have an excessive amount of activity, with high attendance at programs and staff barely keeping up with the day to day functions. It has eased off since school started, and our roles shift a bit, as school projects, reading assignments, and homework takes over the leisure hours of summertime.

We also have our homework to do, with reports, continuing education, special programs and planning. In addition, it is time for the clean-up work that goes along with the heavy use of the library materials over the summer. This is when we evaluate the materials for repairs or replacement due to high use, accidents or loss.

We’ve been discussing some of these issues both amongst the library staff and the library board. Replacing lost and damaged items are ongoing, but when a large surge occurs, it’s time to remind everyone of some real easy basics about how to handle library items when things go wrong.

Don’t try to repair a book yourself. The library purchases special materials for book repairs, and staff who have been trained to do them. Once someone has taped a page with the wrong type of tape, it is very, very hard to do anything to fix it. For a torn page, we only charge a quarter, so please let us know if something happened while in your possession. If you received it damaged, just let us know. We try to catch these as they are checked in and out, but all our materials are also used while in the library, and we also can miss things.

Don’t try to replace a book. We try to make an exact replacement. We have a reason for purchasing the edition we own, whether it is a library edition, a hardcover copy or paperback. These have varying lengths of shelf-life, and we usually prefer a hardcover copy. Processing a book includes opening the book carefully and prepping the spine for use, stamping the edition, laminating the book jacket, retyping and replacing barcodes and spine labels, and the special tapes we use. These all take time and take materials. We charge a modest $5 processing fee to recover some of that expense.

Don’t try to replace DVD’s either. Again there are different formats, different editions. Broken DVD’s are impossible to repair. Many time DVD’s are broken while they are taken out of the case. We know that young children are excited to watch movies, but they are not the best at removing DVD’s from their protective cases. Please have a responsible person handle these, who will note how to take these out carefully, holding the DVD from the edges. Natural oils from hands, popcorn oil, peanut butter and ice cream also interfere with the ability for the DVD to work properly in machines. We do have a machine to repair a certain amount of scratches, but they only can be repaired a limited number of times.

Tell us immediately when you are having trouble locating an item. We try to work with people to give them additional time to look when a book or DVD has gone missing. But we need to know you are looking! New and popular items need to be found or replaced quickly, while older items are sometimes hard to replace. Try to find a regular place to keep your library borrowed materials in your home.

The library materials belong to everyone in Story City. Remember that someone might be waiting for the items you are using, and be responsible for returning them to the library timely and in the condition you received them whenever possible!