Friday, June 22, 2012

No, your library isn't trying to screw you

I'm surprised sometimes at the level of suspicion that some people have.

At my library, the overdue fine for books is 25 cents a day. That is per item, per day. Maximum of $5 for a book. No limit on book checkouts, they go for 3 weeks with no renewals if nobody else is waiting for them. And oh yes, we, the library, did have to pay money in order to get those books from Magical Book Land and place them on our shelves for you, the public, to check out. We, the library, also have to Pay Money for electricity, light bulbs, Internet, computers, printers, paper, phone, and natural gas. We also have to Pay Money for gasoline to put in the tractor that mows the grass and plows the snow and performs other groundskeeping duties.

Sometimes, people take out a lot of books. And they...forget about them. Not for a long time, maybe a week. Not so bad, right? Sometimes fines total out at $3, sometimes $10, that kind of thing. I've seen far larger, and far smaller as well. It's funny, because sometimes somebody will ride me like a rented mule over a seventy five cent fine (that's 3 days, mind you. 3 days. Pocket change. You could find it in the parking lot), and another person will have a fine of $240 for a bajillion late books and just ask me serenely who they make the check out to.

And oh, the comments we get.

"Oh, I guess I'd better just start buying my books. It'll be cheaper." We hear this one a lot. Daily, in fact. That $25.00 hardcover latest James Patterson would have been cheaper to buy than your $1.25 fine? Really?

"I'm paying taxes for this place!" Yeah, so am I. About $120 a year. I own my house in town, you see. Do you know how many books I could buy, new, for $120 a year? Let's be generous and say twelve, at a mix of paperbacks and hardcovers. You know how many books I read a year? Around 100. Sometimes more. Oh yeah, we have DVDs too. One week, no renewal, $1 a day if they're late. You can take 5 at a time. 5 DVDs, depending, is $120. You got your money's worth, I assure you. I've sometimes considered offering people the cash in exchange for a notarized statement saying they won't come back.

"It must be nice to sit around and read all day!" Yeah, it must be nice. Because I don't. I check books out, check books in. I turn the computer monitor back on for people (is it really that hard, not to touch a computer monitor?) I answer the phone and then do Google searches for people for directions, or phone numbers, or to spell words. Or to tell them celebrity birthdates and parents' names. I clean your greasy fingerprints off of CDs and DVDs. I clean mystery crud off of CD and DVD cases. Yeah, we have books on CD as well. They're $120 each for a library copy. Limit of six. Like a book, though, it's three weeks, two renewals, 25 cents a day overdue fine.

"Don't you have a grace period?" Yeah. You checked out your book for a week and have a two week grace period. Seriously. If you can't finish five books in three weeks...don't take five books. If you can't finish one book in 9 weeks (that's what one checkout plus two renewals equals) then maybe you should, in fact, buy it.

"Why can't I take my laptop bag/giant purse/suitcase/duffel bag with me through the library?" Well, people are scumbags and steal our stuff. So, because books and things cost money and not candy, we lose a lot of money yearly from people stealing. So we need to politely treat people with large bags like scumbags who might steal from us. No, we don't want to check your stuff when you're done. Yes, I know your laptop bag contains your laptop and that's why you came here.


  1. People amaze me sometimes. You must have an infinite amount of patience. But that's dealing with the public for you.

    I can kind of relate, though I didn't work in a library. I used to work in a convenience store and had to ID people all the time (pretty normal--most people expect it if they're under a certain age). The thing that amazed me was how newly turned 21 year-olds would get put out that they were being asked for ID to buy alcohol. Some of them got nasty.

    Like I said, endless amount of patience! :) I like your blog, btw. Just stumbled onto it.

    1. My patience...well, it ebbs and flows. It's certainly gotten better after my entrance into dog ownership!

      It constantly amazes me just how awful people act when they get carded. It isn't like it's a surprise! There are signs all over the place in many establishments, and it could cost somebody their job. That kind of entitled behavior definitely screams "I'm actually 17!" (depending)

      Thanks for reading! I'm glad you like what you find here ^^