So there I was, thinking I was doing the right thing in returning these books when I’m slapped with a $75 late charge!? Me, the selfdeclared esteemed Editor in Chief of a publication. Why am I being punished for my passion for books? Am I suppose to pretend like everybody and their mothers don’t have a library book sitting at home, most likely in their attic, that’s obnoxiously overdue?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no stranger to every kind of fee: home video express circa ‘96, “How to Draw Cartoons” from the Parkland Library circa ‘98?, I was even awarded the illustrious UWT boot on my car for my copious parking offenses. So it’s safe to say that my beat up Jaguar is a household name with UWT security. All self-deprication aside, if only for a moment, I usually have no qualms with fees, as I genuinely enjoy taking risks. It can be said that I have a healthy disrespect for authority but I am by no means an anarchist. Heck, I went to Catholic school my whole life, so under a benevolent dictatorship, you learn to get away with things, but when I would get caught, I would have no qualms with paying my bounty. This particular case is an anomaly though as can a library really justify nickel and diming?
Its no secret that library use is plummeting with a majority of students within them usually just being there to use a computer to print something or to find a quiet place. I’m also no stranger to the novelty of checking out a book, but I do know this equally antiquated bohemian notion is a rarity. That being said, should libraries really be giving students more of a reason to not utilize them? Many of the neighboring universities and community colleges have much more lax late policies even going so far as to only charge a student if they lose the book. To further satiate my appetite for some much needed camaraderie, I rummaged through my childhood attic, found that “How to Draw” book from 1998 and proceeded to attempt to return it to Parkland Library.
No 15 year late fees and no verbal slap on the wrist. In fact, the wiry haired keeper of these books and I went on to have a hilarious conversation about how common it is for people to feel guilty years later and return a book. The librarian told me that they are always surprised when they find out that they don’t owe copious amounts of cheddar. My words, of course. She also noted that they used to heavily fine people, but that only stopped people from coming back, subsequently estranging them from the very community that pays their salary and that they were supposed to serve.
After checking to see if they had the same toys that I had played with in the 90s and successfully located the initials I had carved into a location that I will never disclose, I left feeling like I finally had some much needed closure. Sometimes thats all someone needs when they feel slighted, just a bit of camaraderie. Perhaps too much as I may actually pay those library fees. Giving in to too many ‘good fights’ has given me flashes of what I might become. Perhaps I will descend into being that guy who sends out weekly letters to the editor, naturally is the sole provider for an ungrateful pack of felines, estranges himself forever from his indoor voice and wears a Koni 2012 T-shirt. So if you have a similar opinion, do send me a line and always remember that these policies should never be blamed on the lovely staff at the front desk. This is merely a piece of opinionated feedback so as to give genesis to thoughtful dialogue.