Monday, November 16, 2009

Library Woes

Last night I was checking my library account online- something I do on a pretty regular basis since we usually have about 25 items checked out at a time (we're homeschoolers after all) and the late fees can add up in a hurry. I am not usually surprised to see a few 20 cent charges here and there, but I was more than a little shocked to see that I have a new $15 fine for a magazine. That's right- I said $15- for a magazine! Back in September, I am 99.9% sure I returned the magazine in question into the drive up library return drop box. When it first started showing up as late, I emailed the library right away, pleading my innocence. I also stopped by and spoke to a librarian who filled out a claims check on it, and said someone would scour the library to look for the missing magazine. I wondered what would happen if it didn't turn up. I mean, it's a pretty big library, and one little old back issue of National Geographic Kids Magazine could easily get lost or even tossed among all that paper. The librarian wasn't sure the procedure for a lost magazine. It's not like it's a big new hardbound book or something- she said so herself.

Well, I didn't hear about it for over a month, so naturally, I was hoping the problem just went away. Then, out of the blue, I see this whopping fine- $5 for the lost material, and $10 for the “processing fee.” What the heck? I guess that $10 processing fee is for the poor sucker who had to run around unsuccessfully looking for a lost magazine in a multi story building full of paper. But, isn't that what the volunteers are there for? Now, I love my library. We use it all the time; it loans our family a huge portion of our homeschool materials, and I am happy to pay my couple of bucks now and again, but I just find this just a tad bit excessive. They want me to pay $15 for one back issue of a kid's magazine? Give me a break. You can get a 1 year subscription to National Geographic Kids Magazine for $15, which only makes this more frustrating. I like to support having a nice community service like the library, but this just annoys me.

So, I emailed my case again. Apparently, I have to call “the supervisor” on Tuesday. Maybe I should just pay the $15 and get it over with. After all, my family borrows books, videos, and obviously magazines, all year for free. I probably will end up paying it in the end, but in this case, it's the principle. I have to fight injustice and oppression when I see it. I can't just let a government agency get away with bullying and wrongfully over charging. So, Tuesday I'll call “the supervisor” and plead my case. Wednesday, I'll probably be dropping a couple of late books by the library, along with some money to pay for the fines and our $15 lost magazine. I need to get myself off the bad patron list, or they won't let me check anything else out, or even renew what I have now. Oh well, at least it's all for a good cause.


  1. I would go to the library and speak to them in person, but only after you look on the shelves yourself for the magazine. We check out about 60 books a week and I can't tell you how many times we have been told that a book was still out when it had been returned and not checked in properly. I've even had books on my account that I never checked out!

  2. Stand your ground. I had checked out a decorating book and noticed the last few pages had some type of sticky stuff on it and when the librarian checked it out she didn't say anything about it. So when I returned the book I was doing a search on somethings online at the library and was denied putting a hold on a book then I noticed a $25 fee for that book. I went to the librarians and said I did not deface this book. It was like that when I checked it out. I got a bit loud in the library I told them I donate books, and money to your library and I pay my fines when I have late fees, but I did not do this and If I had I would have paid for the book. They ended up taking the charges off. I don't mind paying for something I or my children have done, but don't charge me for something you overlooked.

    I also have had issues with the library not checking books in and having them have to go look for the books. I have gone and looked for the books myself and shown them here it's been returned and back on the shelf take the late fees off. You are going to have to stand there and watch them check in all of your books. It's the only way you won't have to worry about late fees or lost books. I feel your pain.

  3. Hi Pamela,
    When this happens to us we walk in the library and pull the supposed lost item right off the shelf from where it is supposed to be. Happened just this week. Go figure.

  4. I work at our local library (which by the way is very small in comparison to yours). Every day there are books that do not get checked in correctly. After all, library workers are human, mistakes are made. They get busy and make errors. First let me say, I do not agree with the way they have handled this. Our library never charges for magazines. We do not even charge fines on these. They are very easily lost in the shuffle of everyday library books, papers and media. They also do not have a very long shelf life. We purge most magazines after only 6 months. The reason for the $10.00 fee is because they have to pay the person who is looking for the item, the person who has to catalog the new item (if it is replaced), someone to order the new item and the list goes on. I really don't think most libraries replace magazines so this fee should only apply to books, movies and cd's. I would just explain to them that you are sure you returned it and you don't think you should have to pay these fees. If you're library is like ours, the patron comes first. I know this is aggravating but hang in there.

  5. I knew other people had library horror stories too! But, I'm very glad to say that my library dilemna has a happy ending! After the library emailed me the name of the supervisor to call, I noticed that the $10 processing fee had been taken off my account, so I was down to $5 for the magazine. Then, I noticed a poster announcing a "Food For Fines" program where patrons could bring in food donations for a local food bank and get $1 per can credit for fines owed. I figured even though I am pretty sure I brought the magazine back, I'd be glad to donate some food anyway. I'm thrilled it was that easy to make it all go away without the argument, and it worked out for a good cause anyway.


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