Overdue summer-reading books sad chapter in responsibility


I know we are nearing the end of summer — but not by the calendar, or the leaves or flowers or any signs in nature.

Library Notes

I know because the push is on to “finish” the summer-reading books. This means that the one book off the reading list that junior and senior high school students select to read must be sitting on the shelf waiting for them.

Well, it would be nice if that were the case.

This year the superintendent of schools provided us with additional funds to add copies of the required reading to our shelves. We did add many and put restrictions on them as well, in an attempt to have them available for the whole grade. These books only go out for three weeks, no renewals. One book per person is the other restriction and it should have worked.

However having spent the last week working on the overdue notices, it is apparent that no matter what the Library does, no matter what the schools do, there is a glitch that prevents students from getting their books. What is it? Folks, it is your own classmates. There are more overdue summer-reading books right now than any other category. And they’re not one or two days overdue. Some of these students have had one short book out for the whole summer, and there is little we can do except call and ask them to return the item.

Of course, many of you are hoping to get the books from other libraries but remember, if they are on the reading list for Dracut, they are probably on reading lists all over the area and every library is facing the same problem. We have become the ham in a sandwich. First we get complaints if we call and remind people that they have books overdue, next we get complaints from parents and students because the books are not on the shelves. Sort a catch 22, isn’t it?

I am looking at a pile of overdues. Some items have been checked out since June and every notice is handled weekly until the books are returned. We call, we mail and we call. We search shelves and we mail again, then we turn to our collections. Not only is it extremely time-consuming but expensive. It also adds to the problem that some have complained about, lack of personal help. I understand that with the hectic summer months, books can be forgotten or one out of the 20 you took home missed being returned, but if you can please give us a hand and see that items are returned as soon as possible. It would be a big help.

For those of you looking for more to read, however, try one of these.

Ever since the First Wives Club was such a hit and the movie made it big time, the revenge of wronged wives seems to be a very heavily worked situation, and Revenge of the Kudzu Debutantes by Cathy Holton is another in the group. This one has something going for it, though, with bits of humor, stereotypic but still interesting characters and some plotting that makes one wonder how Holton’s husband feels.

On the reverse side, The Second Wives Club by Jane Moore works the “other” side of the fence. How would it feel to be the second wife when the first is still a major player in the marriage? Four different women, but all with husbands who were really not ready to remarry. Not the best but another view to consider.

Kathy Reichs brings back Temperance Brennan in Break No Bones and adds many subplots. Will Tempe return to her former husband or will she continue with Ryan? Will they find the person leaving bodies all over the place? Will Emma live? If you didn’t know it, there is a new series on the TV called Bones that is not only based on these books, but uses Temperance as the main character. I enjoy it a lot, cannot wait for the fall season. Watch for it if you like Kathy Reichs.

Marcia Muller also returns Sharon McCone to her series in Vanishing Point and this time, Sharon and Hy are married. Not that it makes a lot of difference to their lifestyles since they are always in different locations. However, this time a 22-year-old disappearance leads to a current problem when the daughter becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to her mother. There are twists and turns in this mystery that only Muller could pull off with such success that the reader really understands.

OK, back to overdues. See you all soon.

Susan Schwarz is the director of the Moses Greeley Parker Library.