Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Your books are due back ... whenever ...

Anyone who has ever borrowed from a library before will be familiar with the idea of an amnesty.  For those of you who aren't, it's where the library says "Oh look, we've gone temporarily blind and deaf, and aren't paying any attention while you return those grossly overdue books you took out six months ago and forgot were in the back seat of your car.  La la la la, and now we can't possibly make you pay the overdue fines as, you know, totally didn't see you bringing them back".

Although they tend to phrase it a little more professionally when they're advertising it.

The Chicago Library had an amnesty recently and they were lucky enough to have someone return a copy of "The Picture of Dorian Gray".  Why is that lucky, you ask?  Because it was borrowed out in 1934.  Of course the library has a cap on overdue fees, but if they hadn't then the fine would have come to six thousand dollars.  So lucky library for getting a rare item back, and lucky borrower for dodging that bullet!

The library I work at is a reference library so the things we loan out are limited.  But we still have the odd parts of the collection that for one reason or another we let people or other libraries borrow, and working in the finance area I tend to have a fair bit to do with dealing with them when they can't return them.

Over the years I've heard some of the best excuses/explanations for someone not returning an item, so I thought I'd share some of them with you.

  • I left my daughter alone with it and a pack of felt tip pens.
  • It was in the back seat of my car when I went through the car wash with the windows down.
  • I'd rested it on the top of a car at a service station and while my back was turned, they drove off.
  • My dog ate it.  No seriously, he ate it.  Half of it's missing, and it was a hardback!
  • I lost it when my house floated away.
  • I accidentally donated it to charity.
  • My bird shredded it to make a nest.

Of course, none of these people were trying to get out of paying their fines, they were just trying to explain why they'd lost or damaged the item in the first place.  That seems to be the main reaction to these things, a deep sense of embarrassment.  It's like they're ashamed of themselves that they broke the library code.   

Take the woman from the article, for example.  Apparently she'd waited for the amnesty not to avoid a fine, but because she was terrified they were going to arrest her for having the book.  Oh love, we don't do things like that.  Send you snarky letters reminding you about your overdue, sure.  Refer you to a debt collector, possibly.  But as a general rule libraries don't have people arrested for overdue books.

Now, talking in the silent section ... we'll take you down for that shit.

45 comments:

  1. I'm surprised no one told you they used their book as toilet paper. People can be so creative you know.

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    Replies
    1. Honestly, I don't think it would have surprised me if they had

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  2. It is just so scary! I once had to do the walk of shame to the reception desk to hand them a book I had spilled coffee all over. What made me feel worse was the fact that they didn't want me to replace it, they said it would be scrapped, and I thought of the poor author who wouldn't get the loan payments because of my carelessness.

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    Replies
    1. Ah yes, the dreaded weed trolley. It's like death row for books!

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  3. I was once trying to write a research paper, but the main books on the subject were listed in the library catalogue as missing for about five years. I spoke to my professor about the situation, who sheepishly went to his bookshelf and produced them, instructing me to please return them quietly and not tell anyone where I'd found them.

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    Replies
    1. LOL! I'm sure there are a lot of illicitly gained books on professor's shelves.

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  4. I love libraries! I should use them more often! Although, I think I might be one of those who forgets to return her books until - - well, never, maybe :)

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    Replies
    1. I work in a library and I always forget to return them. I think it's part of the human condition.

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  5. i have to admit, i do love library books. but always try to return them on time!

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    Replies
    1. You're better than I am, and I work at the place! I'm always forgetting to take mine back.

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  6. After moving to the tiny town in which I now live, I found that I had a $1.94 fine at another library within the same county, and therefore couldn't check out anything until that was taken care of. The problem? While all these libraries were connected enough to SEE that I had the fine, thus preventing me from being able to use them, they were NOT connected in their financial departments, meaning I would have to travel about an hour to the branch where I owed the fine to pay it.

    In the end, after about 6 months of not remembering to drive out of my way to the other library branch (except whenever I wanted something from this library), I finally asked the librarian here if there was an address where I could just SEND the payment. After several minutes of her looking at things in the computer, she said, "you know what... here," and she deleted my fines from the system.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL! It's hard I know. It was good of them to cancel it for you though.

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  7. We know better than to trust you librarians. We know the REAL reason that Joan of Arc went to the stake. OVERDUE BOOKS. You can't fool us.

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  8. The library where I work caps the fine per book at £5, but as you're allowed up to 16 books, that means you could still end up owing £80... Eek! I'd love it if we could have an amnesty ... oh and my favourite excuse for a damaged book 'my dog ate it' was for a puppy training manual!!

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    Replies
    1. LOL! I'd almost be tempted to write that one off as expected wear and tear :D

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  9. I had a really overdue book I had to wait for an amnesty day for. Here's how that went down, "Look, I know I was supposed to return Are You There God It's Me Margaret back in 1991, but you see I thought then that I was about to hit puberty but that wouldn't happen until 2008 so I had to hold onto it for a while so that I'd be prepared to handle the rigors of my hormonal transition through the ever-fresh, poignant words of Judy Bloom. Then I went to return it, fully prepared to face my fate, but it turns out that library was razed in 2005. So, I just didn't know where to return it. AMNESTY BITCHES!"
    Then I threw the book in the air and ran away knocking over four homeless people using the internet on my way out the door.

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    Replies
    1. I can see that your knowledge of library etiquette is exemplary!

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  10. The variety of things people come up with is amazing. Wow- but I do have to admit...I love amnesty week...

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  11. I suck at returning library books. Seriously... I'm pretty sure I still owe money on a book I took out in 5th grade. Johnny Appleseed. I'm surprised I haven't gotten a collection notice yet actually.

    Hugs!

    Valerie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, they're just waiting until you relax and stop expecting them, and then one night when you're just sitting around in your jammies, relaxing ... Bam! Ninja librarians come vaulting through the window to reclaim their lost book!

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  12. People actually check out books these days? Wow, I thought that was something of the past. Heck with I-pads and Kindles and Amazon.com it seems books are so much more at our finger tips.

    Love the excuses though!

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    Replies
    1. LOL! Yep, people still do it from time to time. I guess they're just traditionalists at heart.

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  13. Libraries still amaze me ~ all of that entertainment and knowledge available for free. {The expression on that cat is fabulous!}

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    Replies
    1. Yep, I'm pretty chuffed by what we do. Freedom of information! Everyone gets access to the same stuff!

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  14. Along similar lines, we get a lot of students at my University library who get Interlibrary Loans, then go overseas, leaving their books at home. And then when we chase them for their overdue book, "Oh, I'm in [overseas location] for my studies, and I wont be back for [certain amount of weeks]"
    The due date for ILLs is clearly written where they can see it. Twice. They get told when they collect it when it is due. They get told to call us if they need it longer or if they have any issues returning it on time. Yet this still manage to "forget" that they are going overseas for two months over the time it is due and don't return them. *headdesk*

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    1. Oh, we get those guys too. But for some reason we always end up with their grandparents calling to tell us they're overseas. Not their parents, their grandparents. I'm guessing it has something to do with the ability to manipulate older people who are predisposed to spoiling you.

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  15. Libraries are wonderful! I get books and dvds delivered to our home quite often. What more could you ask for???

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  16. Haha! The last line priceless! One of my kids walked in one day and said "do all you people hate each other?" He couldn't understand why there were so many people hanging out and not talking to each other.

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    Replies
    1. LOL! Oh, that's priceless! I'll have to remember to tell the others at work about that!

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  17. But people should be arrested for over do books.

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    Replies
    1. Personally, I think a day or so in the stocks would suffice. But I'm old fashioned that way.

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  18. I have to admit to keeping books long past due, now and again, and having one SHAMEFUL library story: When I first moved to my current town twelve years ago, I got a library card....and promptly kept a book out weeks past its due date. I finally returned the book, sneaking it in the after-hours slot, and never went back to the library for fear of being reprimanded or having some huge fine due to accumulated interest from the unpaid portion. As a result, I've missed out on YEARS of my library - I should just suck it up :)

    As for the last line of your post - HILARIOUS! Now if that only applied to the extremely loud, very chatty (on their cellphones) reference librarians at another library near my home.....That would be priceless :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Librarians being loud? Shame on them! They're letting the team down!

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  19. My cats urinated on my borrowed books twice. I don't know why they like to do that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe they were reviewing them? Everyone's a critic!

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  20. Replies
    1. Yep, although these days I think they believe it's a place to get free wifi.

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