Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Actual Conversations Heard in Actual Libraries #114

(SETTING: My "Liberry" where a patron approaches the desk to check books out, having turned in overdue books upon arriving earlier.)

ME— (Beginning to scan books) And there was a 40 cent fine on the books you brought back.


ME— The four books you brought back earlier... there was a 10 cent fine on each of them. It's 40 cents total.

PATRON— Oh. (Pause) I'd meant to renew those first and then turn them in. (Makes no effort to retrieve 40 cents from pocket.)

ME— I'm sorry?

PATRON— I meant to renew them first and then turn them in... so they wouldn't be late. (Again makes no effort to retrieve 40 cents from pocket, as though his explanation has brought the matter to an end.)

ME— That's not how fines work. If you turn in late books, we charge 5 cents per day as a fine. You turned in four books that were two days late. You have 40 cents in fines. Even if you'd renewed them, we have to charge you for the days they were already late.

PATRON— Oh. (Long pause) Do I gotta pay it now?

ME— No, but the fine will stay on your record until you do.

PATRON— Well, I'll just get it later, then. No use busting out a debit card for 40 cents.

ME— We don't take debit cards.



Dances With Books said...

Guess that fine won't be coming off his record anytime soon. Because, why would you bust out the debit card for 40 cents?

Laura said...

Funny, our library's going the opposite direction and choosing to be cashless. It seems to be the thing at the university where I work. It was a little strange the first time I heard someone say, "Sorry, we don't take cash".

Natasha said...

Most public libraries can't deal with the fees associated with debit and credit transactions. It surprises me how many people get indignant about the fact that we don't take them to pay for fines, copies, etc. It'd bankrupt us to do that, and we barely make even on the copies/printouts as it is.

An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.