For those of you that know me [or for those of you through no fault of their own are related to me] you know that I work at the Public Library. Actually I work at the same library while I attended college. My littlest sister, Jodi, was two years old at the time.
She told everyone that I worked at the “puppy lick” library. Little did she know how close she was to the truth. Our awesome children’s librarian, Lane, set up a program where a therapy dog comes to the library. The children have the opportunity to cuddle up with the pooch and read a book. Now that I think about it, some of the children are very young, so now I don’t remember if they read a book to the dog or the dog reads the book to them. [After all, there is a Dog with a Blog!] Whichever is the case, it is a terrific program and I have no doubts that puppy licks are part of the program.
In spite of Nooks, Kindles, MP3 players, computers, i-pods, i-pads and smart phones, libraries still do exist. I have had many people tell me that they still prefer to hold a book in their hand a turn real pages. That being said, collecting fines remains a huge problem for libraries. People are always shocked when we tell them they have a fine. It doesn’t matter if the fine is 15 cents or 15 dollars, they can’t possibly have a fine and there must be a mistake. The other day a teenager came up to the desk to check out a book and her card had a $5.00 fine on it. When I informed her of this fine, I got the usual response.
Patron: That must be a mistake. I don’t remember returning any books late. What was it for?
Me: The book, “Breaking Dawn’” by Stephenie Meyer.
Patron: I returned that a long time ago.
Me: Yes, the book was returned, however it was returned late. It was actually due on September 17th and you returned the book a couple months late. The total fine for returning the book late is $5.00.
Patron: Did anyone ever call and tell me that the book was due?
Me: No, we send out overdue notices in the mail.
Patron: I didn’t get any notices.
Me: Of course you didn’t. Nobody does. We print out overdue notices every single day and faithfully mail them out. From what we can tell the Post Office has a vendetta against us.
Patron: What is a vendetta?
Me: Well, the post office just wants to make our lives miserable so they refuse to delivery any overdue notices that we mail out. Instead once a month they have a huge bonfire and burn them all. We tried to sue the Post Office but the government doesn’t have any money and all the evidence was burned.
The patron looked at me for a few seconds, blinked and said: See, I told you I never got any notices. So can you just delete my fine?
Me: No, all the information on the computer is accurate and you owe us $5.00.
Patron: Well, the computer is wrong. Besides why would I check that book out when I can watch the movies?
Me: I am sorry, this is the information we have and you are responsible for the $5.00 fine.
Patron: This place bites.
Me (trying to be helpful): Wait, next week we are having a special on fines.
Patron: You mean like a coupon or something?
Me: No, We are having a special two week event called “Bring a roll, we pay the toll.”
Patron: I don’t get it.
Me: Let me explain. All you have to do is bring in a roll of a paper product like toilet paper or paper towel. For each roll you bring in we subtract a dollar off your fine. So if you brought us a 4 pack of toilet paper, your fine would be reduced by 4 dollars and you would only have to pay us 1 dollar.
Patron: I don’t get it. Are you guys short on toilet paper or something? Like, to work here you have to bring your own toilet paper. Geez, that would suck.
Me: No. We are collecting the paper products for the homeless.
Patron: If they are homeless where do they keep their toilet paper?
Me: I meant to say the homeless shelter and yes the shelter needs toilet paper.
The patron was more or less talking to herself as she was trying to come up with a way to bring a roll and pay her toll. I heard her mumble something about her mom would notice five rolls of toilet paper missing. She started to walk away and then turned back to me to ask a question.
Patron: Hey can I bring in hemp papers?
My turn to ask a question: What are hemp papers?
Patron: You know those cigarette papers that you use to roll your joints. My boyfriend has tons in his car. He wouldn’t miss a pack. Besides there are like, 30 papers in each pack so that should more than cover the fine.
Me: No, that would not be appropriate.
Patron: Why not? You said bring in a roll of a paper product. They are paper and you roll them.
Me: Yes, but…..
Patron: This place bites.
And she stomped away.