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.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 DOES look like candy

I confess, when I saw a whole bunch of articles about kids getting sick after eating laundry detergent, my first thoughts were not really kind. First and foremost, I wondered why these peoples' 2-year-olds had the time to get away, get into the detergent, and consume it. I also hadn't seen them yet, and wondered what had made them so mistakable for candy. In my day, detergent did not look like candy.

However. Exhibit A:

Remember the original Willy Wonka movie, with Gene Wilder? I'm using that one as the example, as i have not seen the Johnny Depp one. Remember the everlasting gobstoppers the kids were given? Remember what they looked like? Remember how fucking disappointed you were when you got a "real" box of gobstoppers and they were just marble sized balls? These detergent pods look like your magical movie candy dreams come true. Seriously, what the hell? Why is detergent more exciting looking than candy?