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What would Dr. Seuss Do……….

July 28, 2009

I know times are tight and everyone is suffering, but my local library took it a little too far yesterday. I get it that checking books out at the library saves money – it is a wonderful convenience. So I try to do it. But I don’t always follow up with “part b” of that idea – the part of returning the books on time so you don’t have to pay fines – thus guaranteeing the saving money part of the deal.

In my attempt to be a productive member of society, I went to the library to pay any fines we owe. I thought this was pretty good – we are moving out of the country – I didn’t really have to do this – the library police aren’t really going to track me down in Delhi and make me read more books.

I get up to the counter – tell the librarian why I am there – apologize for not having my library card – ask if she would mind looking up our account numbers.

Librarian: Oh, you don’t have your card?
Me: No – I am sorry – we are moving – it’s been crazy – I don’t have the right purse – Is there a way you can look it up? Please. Pretty please with library fines on top.
Librarian: We charge for that service now
Me: Service? What service?
Librarian: Looking up your card number
Me: Isn’t it on the computer – the one right in front of you – the one you will be using to look up my fine anyway?
Librarian: Yes
Me: Ok then – how much is it?
Librarian: It is a dollar per account number
Me: Gasping for air – a dollar? I have 4 card numbers to look up – I just want to clear my account – I might not even have $4 in fines (yes, that was wishful thinking)
Librarian: Wait, are you just paying fines?
Me: (with no books in my hand) Yes – we are moving – don’t really need to check out anything – unless of course you have a reciprocity agreement with the Public Library of New Delhi – now that you mention it, I do need something good for the plane
Librarian – completely unamused
Me – that would be “yes”, I am just paying a fine, but I will need you to look up the fines on that computer – if I can’t even remember my library card, I certainly do not know how much my fines are
Librarian – in that case we won’t charge you
Me – Wow
Librarian: over-extending herself to enter my phone number – yes, all ten digits – to find my account numbers.

She had to do it 4 whole times and it took her about 2 and a half minutes to look up my numbers, calculate my fines, collect my money, and give me change. In fact, it took her longer to tell me about the charges than it did to collect the overdue fines. I can totally (not) see why they are charging for that service now. If I had books to check out and they mentioned charging me to simply look up my account number, I probably would have actually left the books at the counter. Seriously, enough is enough. That would certainly cause more work for the librarian than just entering those 10 digits into the computer.

So, I paid the $20 in fines (still cheaper than the book store) and I cleared my conscience of late fees and overdue books. Yes, I believe Dr. Seuss would be proud – very proud.

I know this is not cause for a riot – maybe it’s not even worthy of a blog post – but it really irritates me that the library would charge me for something they have to do anyway. Is it really that much more daunting to have to enter a phone number than to swipe a card? Really, is it? Isn’t this why computers were invented? To make life easier? Let’s use technology to our advantage. Seriously.

Blah Blah Blah………………

P.S. I don’t personally hold the librarian responsible for the decision to charge the fines – I know someone above her made that decision – don’t worry – no librarians were hurt or yelled at in the writing of this post.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. August 7, 2009 7:56 am

    Your post was hilarious! In case you’d like to join a library in Delhi, check out, it’s an online library and book swap program.



  2. July 31, 2009 10:55 am

    Typical library nazi! That’s why I buy my books on Amazon and pass them on to my friends and relatives.

    Safe travels, my friend!!!

  3. Tottsmom permalink
    July 30, 2009 4:21 pm

    ROFL, I could have written about this exact experience, sans the moving to India bit. I am horrible about returning books, the road being paved with good intentions and the like. We too also have to pay to have the card number looked up. I understand if you lost your card, and need a new one. There should be a way for them to flag an account that keeps getting looked up, but to charge us poor souls $1 just because our lives happen to be a little on the crazy side a the moment, is a bit much. And, btw, when it happened to me, I did leave the books at the library. We now have self check out at our library, but you still need a card, would be nice if you could do it with your phone number and a pin number. Now truely, how much extra money does this really get the library.

  4. July 29, 2009 4:33 pm

    Well paying fines is a nice way to support the library. =)

  5. July 28, 2009 12:55 pm

    pretty please with library fines on top (-: you so crazy…
    damn, I don’t even remember the last time i even went to a library let alone borrowed anything. Amazon should send me Hallmarks.

  6. July 28, 2009 12:23 pm

    Truly silly fee charging going on. Come on people.

  7. Christy permalink
    July 28, 2009 11:53 am

    oh gees! that is ridiculous!

  8. Nancy permalink
    July 28, 2009 10:50 am

    Crack me up! That is outrageous though. Sheesh! Next thing you know Giant and Safeway will start charging you to plug in your phone number when you forget your “savings” card.

  9. Karen C permalink
    July 28, 2009 10:33 am

    And the fines are going up across the board kid and adult books. But that would be another conversation with the librarian! Glad you paid up your account the next thing will be late charges.

  10. July 28, 2009 9:13 am

    oh my, that is just…….!! bad times lead to even worse practices I guess!

  11. Rhonda P permalink
    July 28, 2009 8:15 am

    Wow! It’s gettin’ to be a crazy world out there!!! Anything they can do to charge money!!!

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