Monday, 21 February 2011

What to do if a dog eats your library book

I've noticed a lot of people coming to one of my earlier posts using the title of this post as a search term, but I fear that post may not have answered the question.

So here's a step-by-step guide:

1. Can you repair it yourself? - at least enough to appear intact for the 20 seconds it takes you to drop it on the counter and run? If 'yes' apply glue stick liberally but avoid sticky tape, staples and chewing gum.

2. Are there obvious teeth marks? If 'no' go to (6a)

3. Was it someone else's dog? If 'yes' go to (4). If 'no' go to (5)

4. Approach the owner, demand reparations and make empty threats to report the incident. (If they are bigger and meaner than you, you might want to skip this bit.) Go to (6)

5. Is your dog cute, with adorable puppy eyes, fluffy ears and a friendly nature? If 'no', rub his nose in the crumpled pages and make him sit in the corner with something by Dan Brown - that'll teach him. If 'yes', take him with you and go to (6)

6. At the library.

Several options here. Important: if the dog is with you, ensure it's well-groomed and toileted - libraries are very exciting places and accidents do happen - not just with puppies. Do not bring the dog out yet if attempting (6a), (6b) or 6(c) as it will weaken your argument (especially if it wees on the book). Have it ready in an appropriate container in case it is needed for (6d) onwards.

6a. Attempt the Jedi mind-trick by gazing into the eyes of the librarian and projecting this thought: 'the book is not damaged'. If the librarian accuses you of 'looking at her funny' or demands to know what happened to the book, go to (6b)

6b. Claim it was already in that condition when you borrowed it and that you 'only took it out to support the Save Our Libraries campaign' and how dare they suggest you would ever harm a book! If this fails, go to (6c)

6c. Admit there is a remote possibility the book was damaged in your care. Invent a suitable sob story - it was run over as you leapt to rescue a small child from an oncoming bus. Show appropriate scars.

6d. Come clean: 'The dog ate my library book'. Bring the cute dog out now if you have one. Engage the librarian in discussion about how important and innocent animals are. If this fails to get you off the hook, go to (6e)

6e. Say of course you will pay for the damage but you 'have no money on you just now'. Leave the library and never return. Or assume a new identity, change your name by Deed Poll and stay away 5 years. If this would be inconvenient go to (6g)

6f. Reveal yourself as the Council's 'mystery shopper'. Give feedback about their customer service. Explain the book was damaged deliberately for the exercise and 'just order another one, would you... you'll have my report in a few months'. If this is greeted with disbelieving laughter, go to (6g)

6g. Offer to replace the book. Be aware they will charge you full price. Offer to replace it yourself and order a second hand copy from Amazon for 1p.

In fact... If you just do (6g) you don't have to do any of the others really - everything will be sorted out nicely.In fact. If you just do (6g) everything will be sorted out nicely.


  1. Most of the libraries in Norfolk have an electronic booking in/out sytsem, where you scan them yourself. So as long as the electronic tag is intact, you could bring it back attached to just a sheet of paper.

    Of course, once the human staff come to file the returned books, they will know you were the last person to borrow it, so you'd need to adopt 6e. Or claim the book was intact when you returned it, and the library goat must have attacked it after you left.

  2. I must admit no one has ever used this excuse at our library (except me) but we do get an awful lot of swollen books 'that have been dropped in the bath'. This reason is always accompanied by a cosy laugh and a shrug, and if it's me serving I let them off (yes, I've done it myself) but Scary Sandra always gives them the gimlet eye and charges full price for a replacement.

  3. Holy moley! I think I know some of those dogs.

  4. Dave - they would never replace ME with a macheeeee....eeee.....whirrr click click....eeeee....ine

    Karen - I genuinely had a 'How to Train Your Puppy' book returned in chewed up bits. Do you get books with lots of sand in them at the end of summer?

    Maria - *wags tail*

  5. I don't have a dog, so what do I do if one of the local squirrels climbed over the bay window, jumped in through the open window and chewed my library book?

  6. YES! Sand, I'd forgotten about that. And, sadly, books that have been left behind on holiday.