One of the parts I like least of working at the library is telling people that they’ve got a fine. It’s normally stressful for them. The only thing I get out of it myself is learning to work the cash register better. Oh and not paying off fines might cost me my job too.
Here’s some ideas for having no or fewer library fines.
1. Weekly library visits.
If you go the same day each week, print your library list (most libraries let you get them online) the morning that you’d go and find all the due books. Attempt to renew them and if that doesn’t work pile them by the door. That way you don’t forget any books.
2. Google calendar.
If you’re not sure you’ll go every week, make reminders in Google calendar every time you bring home books or renew them. Consider making it a day or two before the due date if your schedule may not allow you to return them the same day.
Have Google calendar (or other similar sites) e-mail you the reminders.
You can either list every book or just remind yourself to check your online account.
3. Make a home for the books.
We had this as kids–a table where all the library books we weren’t reading belonged. I won’t say we always did well with it–do you know how many books you can be “reading” at the same time?–but it was really handy when we needed to prepare for library trips.
4. Old-fashioned lists.
If you don’t have internet access to your account or don’t want to use it, consider the old-fashioned method. Some libraries will print you a list of all the items you just checked out (or all the ones you have out). If they don’t, write the list yourself.
Tack/tape this list to a noticeable spot in the house. Cross out every book you return. If you renew one, write it on a new list. Consult this list/group of lists every week (or 3 days or daily) to see what’s going to be due between your upcoming trip and the next one.
Library fines aren’t so bad–they go to support a good cause and they’re often still much lower than buying the book itself (some books). But they’re also something that eats away at your budget. If you’re an avid reader, the fines can almost cripple your spending plan ($150+ the other night for a guy who lost 6 books).
Best way to fight them–get a system. Do whatever works for you, whatever makes you get them in on time.
Actually the really best way to go is to start working at a library. So far all the ones I’ve worked at have no late fines for staff.
A library fine story:
Worst library fine I ever had to collect was from an African woman who had what appeared to be cigarette burns all over a section of her face. Torture, domestic abuse, I don’t know what but something bad had happened.
She was upset because she didn’t think one book was returned late (the others were indisputable because I checked them in myself) and I as I was trying to help her, I thought “She’s been through something really awful–and here I am haggling with her about library fines.” But then I hoped that maybe the normalcy of it was good…also her other books were most definitely late and there was no getting around that.