I’m a shocking borrower. I am completely unreliable. I forget to renew my books, I forget my due dates, I am constantly late and I am forever paying overdue fines. I like to consider my overdue fines to be my annual donation to the betterment of the local library of which I am a patron.
A few months ago, my mum finally convinced my sisters and me to clean out her garage. This was a mammoth task. I threw out huge, and I mean HUGE amounts of my high school assignments and notes that I stored away over quarter of a century ago. I was impressed by my calligraphy, by my writing style but none of it deserved being kept. Except for this overdue notice:
Oh yes! The notice is on embossed paper! I feel so special! Digital overdues can’t compete. There is no mistakening my habitual nature. Here is another one:
This one is not fancy. It must have only been a first notice. Every time I have overdues I have an excuse as to why I have been late:
– I forgot.
– I didn’t check my mail.
– I lost the due date slip.
– One book slipped under the driver’s seat when I was driving all 45 loans back to the library and the other 44 were on time (well, make that 38 because 6 were from a previous visit).
– My sister borrowed my books and we fought so I couldn’t ask her to return it because a stand off is a freakin’ stand off.
The point is though, that I always return the books. Always. And yes I accrue overdues which I always pay without complaint. A few weeks ago I paid $66. Yep. That is 6 romances just in that one overdue. This time my excuse was that I went away on holiday, lost my charger so I was offgrid for 4 days during which time my overdue notice arrived but I didn’t look at my email until my 13+ items had accrued at $1 a day. I know. A bit “dog ate my homework” but it is true. These overdues were from my uni library which is much more expensive than my local library.
Occasionally, feel good stories of people who return books 65 years after their due date AND pay a huge fine. Top marks to them but I really don’t think I could ever be that altruistic. Perhaps it is my knowledge of library processes that makes me feel this way but chances are that the library would have weeded that item at least 50 years ago. But let’s be clear here – I return my books and I pay my fines. Perhaps I became a librarian, not because I love being a smartass and enjoy finding answers where others have struggled, but because I could control my loans a bit easier. It’s a bit hard to forget to return your books when you are at work every day.
Having worked in plenty of libraries over the years I am always astounded by the type of people that argue fines. It is rarely people like myself who have fines in the high 60 and 70 dollars. Nor is it people who have genuine reasons such as chronic illnesses. They are usually calm and pay their dues, no complaint and quite philosophical about the whole process. However, I have been on the receiving end of many irate and angry borrowers who feel that they have had some grand injustice occur, who accuse workplaces of fixing fees purely to revenue raise (perhaps an innocent comment on my behalf here – but I have never worked in any library that depends on fine money for their services. It just isn’t the way budgets work). Oh no. The shouters and abusers usually only owe a few dollars. I once had a man throw a punch at me (he missed) and call me a “whore of the council” over a $2.20 fine. I felt affronted by his accusation. What an absolute dick. My library whoring is worth at least 66 dollars.