Yesterday was very odd.
On three separate occasions, each within half an hour of the previous one, unrelated patrons arrived, turned in books and alerted us that their books were extremely overdue and that they wished to pay fines for them. Now, during most weeks, extremely overdue books are only returned on Fridays, our weekly and fairly well-publicized amnesty day. But this was a Tuesday.
One lady's books were 93 days overdue and her fines amounted to nearly $30. She was pleasantly surprised when I alerted her to the fact that we have a $4 fine ceiling, so her total only came to $4. She gave me a five and told me she didn't want change. The next lady had books that were 88 days overdue. She too hit the fine ceiling. All in all, three patrons hit the ceiling.
Another patron left two Ralph Ellison books in our after hours bookreturn that were so wildly overdue that we'd already deleted them from the system. In fact, I can remember searching the shelves for those same books on at least three separate occasions before sending out the overdues on them, well over two years ago, and being very resentful about having to do it because clearly this patron was never going to return them. That patron's fines were completely absolved, as we don't charge fines on anything in our after hours box (being as how it's only unlocked after hours).
Another patron (perhaps the one from above) arrived in person to pay the fines on some massively overdue books he'd turned in in the book drop. I had to explain that those fines had been eaten and the reasons behind it. I didn't even have any idea what his fines would have been, nor which books he'd turned in, cause they didn't show on his record.
"Do you guys collect any fines at all?" he asked.
"Actually, yeah," I had to say.
I wonder if it's spring cleaning that's unearthing these lost tomes? If this was the case, I did note that one lady's books certainly hadn't fallen into the spring-cleaning themselves, for they were quite filthy, though otherwise undamaged.