I’m quite embarrassed to admit that I am a not a model library patron. Today I logged in to the NPL’s website to renew my books and was denied. It seems I’ve surpassed the 10 dollar maximum fine allowed by the library. oops. I’m awful at remembering when my books are due* and it doesn’t help that I usually check out way more than I will read because, like clothes, I don’t like to “try on” books at the library. I take them home and try them out before I commit. Anyway, I didn’t get to read The Kite Runner, a book that I honestly did want to read. Instead of keeping a way overdue book, I loaded up the Frank (my 2 year old) and took it back to NPL. I would have paid my fines too but it was raining and I didn’t want to unload the Frank and his brand new lime slush from Sonic ® to go inside. I will definitely do it soon.
The situation today got me thinking about the whole idea of fines. I googled™ a little and came across this 2006 article from The Christian Science Monitor. I see both sides of the “to fine or not to fine” argument. I myself am ok with paying fines because I know I’ve done something “wrong” and I’m cool with supporting public libraries. I guess not everyone thinks this way and that fact combined with the amount of work it takes to track down negligent patrons has led to libraries eliminating fees all together. I guess that’s nice and customer-friendly but I hate that we have to compete with Amazon and Netflix and Wal*Mart and everyone else. It’s a library. You pay fines if you’re late because that’s what you do. It’s frustrating that people** would think that they are above that.
*When I am a librarian someday I’m totally voting for email reminders.
**I’m speaking of people with the means to pay. I’m not at all referring to the underprivileged.