Beer vs book
November 27, 2005 1:23 PM   Subscribe

I left a half filled beer next to a library book last night. Somehow, by morning, the book was in a puddle of beer. Suggestions for drying the book? Does beer create any special problems as opposed to, say, water?

To make matters worse, it is a library book. I plan to confess and simply buy the book but I would still like to read it.
posted by dking to Food & Drink (15 answers total)
 
Special problems? Like smelling like a neglected textbook at a frathouse?
Could you douse it in enzyme cleaner and let it dry with the leaves fanned? At least then you should be able to read it, though I don't know if the smell-killing will work.
posted by dness2 at 1:27 PM on November 27, 2005


Depending on the extent of the damage, I'd probably trash it if the book were mine (unless the book is rare or expensive). I can't quite tell if you're going to try any repair on the library book yourself before confessing, so I must say: before you do anything, just tell the library. They have their own repair and conservation methods and if you try anything aggressive (unless you're a book conservator), you may, just may, do more damage.
posted by Uncle Glendinning at 2:00 PM on November 27, 2005


Uncle's probably right, but just for the record, someone who does that kind of thing once told me that they freeze waterlogged books to get the water out. Not quite sure how that works but, interesting thought.

You could always buy another copy of the book, donate it to the library, and experiment with your beer-logged copy.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 3:32 PM on November 27, 2005


By "confess" I meant that I would tell the library I had ruined their book and pay for them to buy a new copy. It's just a paperback, not rare or unusual.

I've got it sitting outside with the pages fanned but this seems to result in wrinkled, stiff pages.
posted by dking at 3:36 PM on November 27, 2005


Tip from a library for water damage. (Says the freezing technique requires rapid freezing to -15F.) If your book is still wet, intersperse some paper towels between the pages. Stand the book on end, slightly fanned, and let it dry out. (I think in my case when I tried saving a book I'd dropped in the tub, I just blew a hair dryer at it for awhile, then sat it out w/fanned pages. When dried, the pages were legible and all, but pretty wrinkly.)

Since your case was beer, not water, I would think that it would make your damaged book even more susceptible to molding than if were just water. Once you dry the book out, read it once through to get your money's worth from buying it via the library fine, and then trash it so that you don't end up spreading mold to the rest of your books.
posted by neda at 3:36 PM on November 27, 2005


Be sure to calculate the replacement cost of the book and compare it to the time/effort cost of your salvage operation. Don't ask the library for its cost, though; you'll probably be better off finding a cheap new copy via a site like Bookfinder and handing it to the library yourself, rather than paying the library's own calculated replacement cost, which will often be higher (perhaps because it includes time and labor charges as well).
posted by mediareport at 4:42 PM on November 27, 2005


After it dries, sprinkle in baby powder to deal with the aroma. Return it to the library and give them a cash donation of 1/2 the replacement cost or more. It won't be the worst they've seen. They can use the cash to buy a new book, not necessarily the same title.
posted by theora55 at 6:36 PM on November 27, 2005


Don't ask the library for its cost, though; you'll probably be better off finding a cheap new copy via a site like Bookfinder and handing it to the library yourself

Check with the library before you try this: some may accept the "replacement" others definitely will not.

Why wouldn't they accept it? It's still going to need processing (labeling, covering, stamping, adding to the circulation system); unless it is the same edition most libraries will need to re-catalog it; some books are bought with more durable "library" bindings; replacement time (for whatever reason) is the chance to evaluate a book for replacement either with a new edition or a more recent book... all together much easier for them to take the money and work from there.

You damaged library property so you're responsible, getting cute about "replacing" it for them doesn't necessarily save them much if any money and can make their lives more difficult. If you do want to ask about replacing it, try talking to the acquisitions librarian.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 7:20 PM on November 27, 2005


Quinbus Flestrin raises a fair point; it's worth checking with the library about their replacement policy. If the book is an easy-to-find edition, however, *and* they quote you an absurdly high replacement cost, then I'd hardly call it "getting cute" to simply walk in with a new copy and ask to talk to someone about making good on your accidental beer spill.
posted by mediareport at 8:34 PM on November 27, 2005


Out of print books are different, but for in print books they are unlikely to charge you anything but list price; while this may seem high to those accustomed to buying books at a discount, for the library, given the costs of acquiring and processing books, it's not unjustified.

There's nothing wrong in asking about the possibility (which is why I suggested contacting the acquisitions librarian first) but the poor clerk at the circulation desk is in no position to decide whether your book is the right edition, is in acceptable condition and so on. In many libraries the person who you would need to talk to either won't be available or may be at a different location (big libraries often have centralized acquisitions and cataloging departments) -- are you going to leave the book on the off chance? How are they getting it back to you if they don't want it? From their point of view, you have damaged their property but are expecting to settle entirely on your own terms without taking their extra costs into account.

The "cute" was mostly in reaction to the "return the book and give them half the price" remark above. This would leave them with a probably useless book, others are unlikely ever to check out a visibly damaged book, and only a fraction of its replacement cost.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 9:17 PM on November 27, 2005


for the library, given the costs of acquiring and processing books, it's not unjustified.

No. If the edition's the same and a new copy is easily found for less than the list price, demanding full list is *not* justified. In my view, there should be no reason why the library would not accept a replacement copy in lieu of full list payment - asking for the labor and material costs of putting a sticker on a book is laughable, particularly when the user is going out of their way to make good on accidental damage. I've heard of good and bad scenarios in cases like this, and if the library's first reaction is "Pay us full list," the user has every right to offer a replacement copy they found cheaper instead.
posted by mediareport at 11:15 PM on November 27, 2005


In my view, there should be no reason why the library would not accept a replacement copy in lieu of full list payment

These are all real and acceptable reasons:

It's still going to need processing (labeling, covering, stamping, adding to the circulation system); unless it is the same edition most libraries will need to re-catalog it; some books are bought with more durable "library" bindings; replacement time (for whatever reason) is the chance to evaluate a book for replacement either with a new edition or a more recent book

I used to work for a library - these are all very valid reasons for them wanting to choose their own edition replacement.

But you would be doing the right thing about "owning up" and paying for the book. You wouldn't believe the number of people who try and get away with damaging books, and how hard it is for a library to try and get any kind of payment to replace damaged materials. Kudos to you for wanting to be responsible.
posted by agregoli at 8:24 AM on November 28, 2005


asking for the labor and material costs of putting a sticker on a book is laughable

Oh no you jus dint.
posted by Hildago at 8:31 AM on November 28, 2005


Yeah, Hildago, for the specific case I note above (which specifics agregoli seems to have ignored), I jus did.
posted by mediareport at 10:51 AM on November 28, 2005


For anyone still following this: The book has dried and smells of beer and many pages are either wrinkled or stiff.

I plan to just take the book in and ask them what I should do. Whatever they say is what I will do. I have enjoyed MANY books from this library and paying for the book (even at a higher than list price) is something that I feel I should do.

Thanks all for the great advice!
posted by dking at 8:13 PM on November 29, 2005


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