I really like my library job. I’m usually happy before, during, and after work. I love the people I work with, it’s fun and fast-paced, and I love libraries in general. Most of the people who come into the library are in a good mood – until the dreaded library fine pops up. I was talking last week with a friend who lives in a small, mountain resort town, and she said that her local library charges $1/day overdue fines for every item – books, magazines, movies… everything is $1/day. Holy crap! I bet people in that town are better about returning stuff than our patrons are.
I find it very interesting the way different people handle library fines. Our library charges 10 cents a day for most stuff, but $1/day for movies and 25 cents a day for magazines. Library employees don’t pay fines, so I’m not as good as I used to be about returning stuff on time. But before I worked there, I almost never had library fines. Some of our patrons pay several dollars every month – that adds up! A guy came in tonight and returned a bunch of stuff 38 days late – total fine: $19.50, and he didn’t bat an eye, he just paid up, and said that the library is a great resource, so he doesn’t mind paying fines.
A few minutes later, a regular patron came in, and she had a 20 cent fine on her record. She pitched a fit when I told her about it, and said that it had to be a mistake, that she’s always on time. Ok, first of all, we aren’t keeping track of this stuff in notebooks anymore. Computers don’t make mistakes. People make mistakes, but when we scan a book, the computer records the exact time and saves it. So I was able to look at her record and see when the item went out and when it came back. Two days late. But I have no desire to argue with a patron over 20 cents, so I waived the fine (we all do that when the amount is small and the patron is pissed). This particular patron uses our inter library loan system every week. She always has at least 10 items on hold. And her requests are usually movies in Russian. And we get them for her. Every week. And yet she doesn’t want to pay a 20 cent fine. For anyone who has wondered about the difference between cheap and frugal – there’s a good example. Being conscientious about when your library books are due and avoiding late fees is frugal. Refusing to pay a 20 cent fine when you use the library every week – that’s cheap.