My little FINAL NOTICE note that we sent out with the overdue notices this time has certainly caused a stir with some patrons. These are the same patrons, mind you, that we've sent multiple overdue notices to over the past two years. Suddenly, they can't pay attention fast enough when their ability to check books out from all 33 libraries in our 15 county network is being threatened. I can't say that overdue books are pouring in, but we're definitely getting more of them back than with most overdue mail-outs.
"Final notice? I never got a first notice!" one lady bellowed at us over the phone. The hell you didn't,
I wanted to say. Our stats, after all, indicated that her particular
overdue had been printed by our computers over 13 times. That's thirteen
months to you and me. My guess is, at least three of those months got
mailed to her if not more. And she can't exactly claim that we don't
have her correct mailing address if this one managed to find her.
Nevermind the fact that I PERSONALLY MAILED ONE TO HER LAST MONTH. In
the end, she still has to bring her obscenely overdue books back or pay
for them, first notice or not. At least we got her attention.
had another lady come in to sign her children up for our Summer Reading
program who coincidentally turned out to be a Seefile from 2001, a year
we haven't even bothered to send out overdues for this time around.
Turns out she used to live here and moved away, but is now back in the
area full time. She even pointed out to me that she probably had fines
when signing her kids up. Sure enough, she owed $16.95 for a long lost
"Can I pay you something on that?" she asked, offering a $5 bill.
sure," I said. We don't normally take installment payments on lost
books, but I figured if she couldn't afford to pay all $17 dollars at
once, that money was probably earmarked for something more important,
like food. I marked both her Seefile and her patron record that she now
only owed $11.95 and signed her kids up for Summer Reading and library
cards. Granted, they'll all have to get new library cards next week when
the new computer system goes online, but they were cool with that.
things genuinely do fall through the cracks on our end. One patron
called me yesterday to complain that she's now received the same overdue
notice on the same Clive Barker book on tape three times and each time
she's called us to tell us that she mistakenly dropped it off at a
branch in another county and that they still have it. I seem to even
recall having taken such a call from her in the past myself. This time I
put a note in her patron record to this effect, wrote it down on the
note pad to call our "liberrians'" attention to it and assured her this
would be looked into. That's the trouble with being high and mighty and
sending out FINAL NOTICES; any mistakes on your part get magnified to
the same size as the threat you're making. Oh, it's all fine and good
when the overdue is for a well-known deadbeat patron who has no excuse,
but when the little old lady from down the street comes in to return a
book that's been lodged behind her sofa for eight months, you feel a
little bad about sending her threatening notes.
quite a number of people are bringing their overdue books back and
letting us get our records straight. One in particular was the
screenplay to Stephen King's Storm of the Century which has been
out since 2003. We're so familiar with it that whenever the overdues are
printed we don't even bother looking on the shelf to see if it's there
because we've already checked that shelf at least three times before and
know full well it ain't there. Yesterday, the lady who checked it out
finally returned it and had the decency to at least look sheepish about
I'd decided to stop reporting about Parka's
activities, since they seemed to have settled into a pretty stable,
though highly irritating pattern. However, he came in three times
yesterday and not once did he loudly robot drone "MAY I PLEASE SIGN UP
TO USE A COMPUTER?" from the door. Nor did he ask what our hours
tomorrow are. I wonder if Miss E had to yell at him again.