When an item is returned to Topsham Public Library it is not just checked in and placed on the cart to be shelved. Each item is inspected to see if anything like a bookmark, or a credit card, or a check, or an airplane ticket – you get the drift – is left in it. DVDs and audio books are checked to ensure the correct number of discs are there. It is not uncommon for us to call a patron and ask them to check their dvd player or cd player because an item was returned missing a disc.
And each item is checked for damage. Depending on the item and the type and extent of the damage, the item might need to be paid for, but if the damage is minor and/or is normal wear and tear and is a part of our collection, it might be able to be mended. (As a side note, please don’t try and fix anything for us. We have special tape and glues we use to repair books. If a library dvd or audio book is skipping and/or unplayable, please don’t clean it or buff it. We have equipment to use on the discs and staff who will tend to it. We only repair items that belong to Topsham Public Library. We do not repair items from other libraries or items from the public.)
We have a special spot for those items that need to be repaired: The Island of Misfit Items. There are a number of shelves and each is dedicated to a particular issue. There is a spot for discs that don’t play, a spot for new cases for audio/visual materials, a spot for books that need new covers, a spot for books that have binding issues, a spot for cataloging issues, and a spot to hold the books that we are weeding out of our collection.
Though the items are labeled with “Topsham Public Library” these are not our items. They belong to the community, and the resources that go into the purchase of these items we do not take for granted. It is our responsibility to care for what the public has entrusted to us and The Island of Misfit Items is one way we handle that responsibility.