25 November 2013

Overdue books - who gets my fine?

Most prolific library users I know have overdue fines.  Hey.... it happens.

I've even observed, or gotten caught up in, bizarre games of one-ups-man-ship about fines.
Photo courtesy: Elena Roussakis
Flickr Creative Commons

"I have, like, six dollars in fines right now."

"Six?  That's nothing!  I've got $22 in fines, and four books I just can't find."


I started this calendar year with a resolution not to incur ANY fines.  I held out for a few months, but like most people, my resolutions usually don't last all that long.  

I've probably paid $15-20 in fines over the last calendar year.  I console myself: well, I'm making a small contribution to the library with my fine money.  That's not such a bad thing, right?


NEW KNOWLEDGE: In my city, FINE MONEY DOES NOT GO TO THE LIBRARY.  Yes, it's dutifully collected by circulation desk librarians, often literally by nickels and dimes.  But from there, it ultimately goes into our city "General Fund."


Yep.  The City.

Now, I love my city.  I love where I live.  But I (almost cheerfully) pay my taxes, and I volunteer.  They don't need even MORE from me, especially when I can easily avoid these fees by being just a teensy bit more diligent, more organized, or at the very least, a little less foolish and a little more realistic about what I can read within 3-5 weeks.  Or for heavens sake, just go on the library website and RENEW materials promptly, Silly Self!

SO... the moral of the story: my effort to avoid fines is about to be redoubled.

I challenge you to ask your local library: what happens to the money you pay in fines?  Is that how you think those funds should be allocated?


  1. Unfortunately that is the case when libraries are town departments. What's even more frustrating for a librarian is to find that even the fees collected for lost books go into the general fund. And, if you want to replace that lost book, the cost comes out of your regular book budget. The fees collected can't be applied toward the cost of the replacement. Grrrrrrr...............

    1. Yeah, that's where the plan falls down for me. I understand that our library is a city department. But so is Parks & Rec. If my son broke a piece of recreation equipment, and we (or better yet, HE) paid for a replacement, I would assume that the replacement money would actually PAY for that replacement. Anything other than that makes ZERO sense to me. I don't believe anyone is "getting rich" off overdue fees, but still......

  2. Wow, just yesterday, I was joking with one of our librarians about the shelf I have paid for over the years. I also, try to be more diligent about the renewals, which means getting on the library online site almost daily to check! I am better in the summer when I work part time hours at school. However, I am really astounded to find out the monies don't go the library! Now I am going to check when I am in there tomorrow! I didn't mind to much when I thought the monies were buying more books, because for me, if I had to purchase all the books I read, I would be one sad reader! But we pay our taxes.... so now I will have to be even more diligent!!