My Library Fine

I wrote a check today for $112.25.

I didn’t buy something marvelous. I didn’t pay my electric bill. I didn’t put the deposit down on a cool vacation.

I paid my library fines from the last twelve months.

No kidding.

My friend, Allie, had been telling me for months that I needed to stop buying books and start frequenting my public library. I finally took her advice, and I signed myself, Grace, and Joe up for library cards last May.

Grace and I visited the library every other Tuesday between June 1 and August 21, 2009. We took out eight or ten books at a time, we stored them in a basket in our living room, and we returned them two weeks later. my library fine

No fines.

When school started, our schedule got knocked off. I forgot to return our books.

A month or so after they were due, I finally remembered that we had some library books.

One Sunday morning – when I was certain the library would be closed – I sheepishly dropped the big stack of books in the book drop outside of the library.

Lather, rinse, repeat. This happened two more times over the course of the school year.

In an effort to find something fun to do with Grace that didn’t involve eating ice cream, I suggested that she and I go to the library.

Grace adores our neighborhood library. It’s small, but it has a separate kids’ room that is full of toys and fun books. Grace could spend the afternoon at the library.

I half expected to see a photo of myself on the wall, like a wanted poster, with the caption: DO NOT LOAN BOOKS TO THIS WOMAN.

Fortunately, there was no such poster.

Or if there was, it was hiding behind the counter, in a back office with other lousy library patrons’ pictures.

Grace played a while (with my sister and mom, who’d come with us), then we choose some books and headed for the counter.

“I owe some fines.” I told the librarian while I was looking for my library card.

She looked up my information, and I expected to hear something along the lines of $35.

When the librarian said $112.25, I asked if I still had a book out.

“No, you returned them all,” she replied, looking at the computer screen. “You returned some books about a month late.”

Kindly, she didn’t say “You returned your books a month late three times! What is wrong with you???

I wrote my check, borrowed our books, and left the library feeling like the worst library patron on the planet.

I entered an event in my Google calendar on the day before the books are due. I hope that’s enough to remember to return them.

Am I really the world’s worst library patron?

What’s your worst library fine?

Submitted to Tackle It Tuesday

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© 2010 – 2013, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

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Comments

  1. HeathersHodgepodge says

    My library is a bit more aggressive than yours. I get an e-mail 2 days before a book is due. If I don't return it that day, I get another e-mail the next day, and the day the book is due. 1 week later, I receive a notice in the mail. At my library, you can't check out new books if you owe a fine.

  2. says

    This did not happen to me, but to my English Teacher at the University I attended (She was getting a Phd and teaching the freshman English Class.) She had a fine of $150 – all because she was one day late returning 150 books – the library policy was $1 per book per day. OUCH. She actually got out of it by writing a letter to the head librarian.

  3. Andrea says

    Ouch! Can you tie your library card to your email account? I get a reminder email from the library when my books are due. And I can renew them online if I know I won't make it to the library on time to return them. BUT the school library – that is a whole different story! I finally told my girls they couldn't check anything out there. And if they did – they couldn't take it out of their backpack. No email reminders – no way I could keep track of them.

  4. Rachel says

    I owe my library about $11 now. Mine is mostly from ordering books from other branches (they charge .75 per order). But thankfully my library sends me an email a few days before my books are due reminding me or I'd have A LOT of fines!

  5. NilsenLife says

    I see your $112 and I'll raise you by 50 bucks or so – this winter, we paid a fine of $157. My teeth almost fell out. Of course the husband paid it without even asking if there was a payment plan for exorbitant fees!! The stupid thing is, I had tried to renew them online, but ran into trouble, and [long story short] got in a huff abt how I was treated. So, TO SHOW THEM (ha!) I didn't return the books. Stupid stupid stupid. I'd like to say I learned my lesson, but just ended up paying another chunk o' change 2 wks ago. But I STILL love the library.

  6. momonthego says

    Locally, they stop letting me take books out with $30 in fines. I've hit that more than I'd like to admit. There is a great service Library Elf is a great service which will email you when your book are 3 days from being due and remind you every day thereafter, including when they are overdue or if you have a request available. It's free for one card or for about $30/yr you can associate multiple cards. I did this for my daughter's card and mine and the fines became very rare. It works with many libraries.

  7. TheProfessionalFamilyManager says

    I don't even want to think about what my “current” library fine is. Ten years ago I checked out six books via interlibrary loan and returned them…except the library insists I didn't, and wanted me to pay $30 per book. I flat-out refused and told them to find the books. If I hadn't returned the books I would have paid, as it's my responsibility; however, when *they* lose them and want me to pay for them, then I have a problem. It's the principle of the matter. It also bothered me that the employees at the time were very rude and unhelpful–they took the librarian stereotype to a whole new level.

    Occasionally I've thought about paying the fine just because I like supporting things like libraries, but since five years ago we had to have a community vote to raise our taxes to “save” same library because the people running it mismanaged funds and lost some of the money, well, every time I think of just being nice, I change my mind.

  8. secretmomthoughts says

    You are not the worse. I've lost books and had to buy them. Then found them a month later. Really bad books too.

  9. TheAngelForever says

    We lost a book once that my son took to synagogue for services. We bought them another copy since I could get it cheaper than they wanted to charge me. Of course, the other day I returned 5 DVDs and 8 movies into the slot on a Saturday morning. Monday I received a notice that something was late. Apparently they did not check in a DVD, but I also caught a book that was MIA on their end.

    We are lucky, our library has e-mail reminders 2 days before things are due. We also have a fine cap. In addition to this, if your fine is over $1-2 you are not allowed to renew items online – forcing you to go in and pay up. We got to the library several times a week and the kids love it. Sorry about your fine.

  10. says

    Ok I don't feel so bad now – I paid over $30 in fines about a year ago, pretty much resulting from the same kind of thing. We go to the library regularly in the summer, so the books get returned on time. But during the school year I've had to pretty much deliberately stop going because the books never get returned on time. Plus the older girls check out books from their own school library anyway. I know I'll have more fines when we start going regularly again in a few weeks, so I'll have to get them paid off again. I'm glad we're not the only ones!! :)

  11. Julia says

    okay, now i feel a little better about my $9.20 fine, which i accrued after julia belén was born. returning books to the library on time was obviously not a priority with a newborn in the house. i have to remember not to take books out right before this one is born!

  12. says

    Tara
    You may want to check with your local library and see if they can add your email address to your library account. My library has this option and they email me three days before my books are due! It's been a lifesaver and I haven't had to pay a find since!

    Good luck!

  13. Robyn's Online World says

    My last fine was $22. I have late fees a lot too but I don't sweat it. It is just my way of contributing to the library, always a worthy cause. Our regular branch just last year did a major remodel, so now I call it MY library since I figure all of my late fees paid for the remodel LOL

  14. says

    Yeesh! We actually go to a different library (libraries, really) for a while when we owe. The down side of that is that we inevitably end up owing to multiple libraries! I can never seem to leave with a small pile though….The other day the librarian said to me “that makes 55 books, total” (I had 9 or 10 still at home).
    Now if only our house would stop eating random books that don't belong to us…..

  15. says

    Oh no! I think my highest was around $5. I would have fainted if I heard that amount! Hope you remember from now on! If that were me, I would make a photocopy of that check/fine and tape it on the fridge as a reminder so I never forget again!

  16. sadface says

    I just received a letter from my school library. I owe $103. This makes me feel slightly better.. but not really. I am SO not looking forward to paying this tomorrow. SO very embarrassed :( I feel your pain.

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