Do You Feel Guilty About Library Fines?

This weekend, as a result of a series of distressing events involving 6 volumes in The Boxcar Children series, a hand-puppet that looks like a mosquito, a Pikachu, I Choose You! video, Willa Cather’s A Lost Lady, 3 library branches and 3 library cards, I paid $24.30 in library fines.

I feel pretty guilty.

Can I assuage my guilt by thinking that the size of my fine gives the library the resources to buy one more book than it could have if I hadn’t screwed up (I didn’t lose or damage anything–late fees only)? Or does the fine fail to even begin to compensate the public for the time spent in dealing with an incompetent disgusting low-life book-retaining scum like me?

I did a search and the threads I found were about people being pissed about library fines–this strikes me as nuts (except in cases where the library screwed up)! What do you say? Am I just accessing the free-floating undifferentiated guilt resevoirs of my soul here?

Your library fines do indeed go to making a better library. If it was a public library ask where the money goes. Or get a copy of their year-end financials and look under the “miscellaneous income” column. You do not need to feel guilty unless someone was waiting for those books, If someone had been waiting you probably would have gotten a card or a phone call from the library computer telling you there as a “hold” on those books.
As guilt goes, I’d dump this in favor of that overfed goldfish.

You returned the materials and paid the fine. You are an upstanding citizen and need feel no more guilt over this. If you still had the books out, or were refusing to pay the fine for whatever reason, then you would have reason to feel guilty.

Go. Walk guilt-free. Check out books. (And return them on time.)

I feel guilty, briefly, then I pay them and I only stay irritated with myself for having to pay the money.

But I always think of that Stephen King story with the Library Policeman when I have to pay fines…so I try my best to avoid them.

Don’t feel guilty! The library can use that money. In fact, I feel a little bit EXTRA virtuous when I keep books too long, 'cause then I get to give my beloved library money.

Our public library doesn’t charge for overdue materials. If you keep something too long though, you’ll get a bill for the cost of replacing it.

That happened to me a couple of times, and when I returned the overdue items, I included a donation of several books from my own library. (Including that execrable “Paradise” by Toni Morrison, who I normally love to read.)

I have a hard time reading on someone else’s schedule, so I rarely use the library anymore. (It’s pretty small anyway.) But I still donate the non-keepers. If you’re still feeling guilty (and it sounds like you might be), that might help.

I guess I’m lucky - my county library doesn’t charge fines.
Other places I have lived, the libraries charged as little as two cents a day per item to twenty-five cents per day per item. (You bet I got those books back right away.)

But yes, I do feel guilty about overdue books.

Now here is one area where my conscience doesn’t even act up.

Actually just today I had an overdue book which was renewed. (P.D. James. A Murder in Triplicate- if yo u wanna keep score.) I don’t know how much they fined. My mom renewed it when I was at school. But come on, it’s usually all of…what, five cents? I could pay that with my left over change. Hmmm.

I think of overdue books as sort of an inconvenience, but nothing serious. I try to get them in on time and all and I usually do. Well, maybe not with IT…when I read that a couple of years ago I had it out for awhile. I kept reneweing it and i think by the time I returned it it was overdue. (I seriously think they were considering murdering me after that little fiasco. :stuck_out_tongue: That’s why I bought it.)

Auntie Pam: that’s what my school library does. No fines or anything unless you lost it.


The books I take out are usualy obsucre enough that I doubt anyone behind me is aching to get their hands on it.

And I know that there are a lot worse ways I could waste my money.

But damn! I swear, I’m supporting that library myself…

WHAT Stephen King story was that?

I have intense guilt episodes about late books. So much so that I will round the fine up to the next dollar, donate several honor books, and apologize endlessly to anyone that will listen.

Actually, I think they like to see me coming. You can almost hear them thinking “here comes the woman that is going to build the extra wing on the building with her late fines, wonder what excuse she’ll have today” :wink:

I had to hunt down the title…it’s called Library Policeman and it’s in Four Past Midnight.

I’m feeling pretty guilty right now…I just graduated with my master’s degree in December. I had about 65 books checked out for my thesis, and in the rush of finishing the thesis, turning it in, etc., I let them get pretty overdue.

**Obligatory excuses: ** Returning the books was a logistical hassle because of the quantity, and also because the university recently removed almost all parking near the library in a misguided effort to expand “green space.”

Anyway, I figured I owed the library forty-some dollars (a quarter per day per book). I walked at graduation, but the university withholds your actual diploma until it checks that you are clear of fines and fees, etc. So I figured I’d soon get a bill.

Except I never did! One day I got my diploma in the mail and I had never paid the fine! So here’s the weird part: I called the library and the desk person said he didn’t see any block on my account, which means that I don’t have any significant fines. So what happened to them? Do I need to watch my back? Will my crime eventually catch up to me? :eek:

I do when it comes to the University library–I know what a pain in the butt it is to NEED a source and not be able to get it.

But our city library? I pay them gladly and without guilt. It’s a source of revenue for them. They had some financial problems divulged recently and fines were raised quite a bit to increase revenue.

I suppose if they were months late, then I might sweat over whom I’d inconvenienced by having the books unavailable, but we’re usually talking just a few days. I fork over the money with a smile.

Librarian checking in (yuk, yuk, yuk):
Oh, yes.
Not that one.
Don’t sweat the librarians. They’re cool with the situation. They know there’s a ruthless, respected academic machine that will dun, harass and hound you down like a vermin for the rest of your life: the Alumni Office. Library fines?! You’ll be lucky to get by without endowing a Chair, much less paying off the astroturf in the new stadium.

I LOVE this thread! Damn, any wonder I love my profession? By and large book lovers are a pure delight. The “keep the change”, “let me give more”, “can you use this book?” generosity isn’t unusual–but it’s always heartwarming and welcome.

Most librarians HATE overdue fines. Auntie Pam nailed it: it forces people into unnatural reading schedules. Don’t know about anyone else, but it seems like all the books I reserve come in at once–which means either crash reading or turning some back. Besides, it’s a logistical and postage nightmare. Every single “overdue” title has to be checked against the shelves to make sure the book didn’t come back before the notice was produced. It’s expensive in terms of staff time AND discourages readers. Talk about “lose/lose”.

But many public libraries are REQUIRED to charge fines. Simple fact, it’s a token revenue stream in an agency that can’t show many. Pay for water? Business licenses? Trash pick-up? Ambulance calls? Renting a park shelter? It gets very hairy at budget time.

Most people are so honest it hurts. We have a $3 limit, so fines don’t get too overwhelming in the first place. Donations? GREAT! Wipe the fine and every one wins. Kids with fines? Offer them the option of coming for a few hours dusting shelves, putting books away, etc. to “clear the charge”. Most of them have a blast, wander back when they’re bored to help out some more, get really possesive of “their shelves”–and fight to get hired as student shelvers.

I didn’t mean to get carried away. Book lovers and library fans just ROCK in too many ways to count. I hate that something as stupid as fines discourage some of the nicest, most honest, interesting and INTERESTED people around.

Oh I always feel guilty about returning books after the due date. I was really bad about it when I lived in Dallas even though I literally drove right by the library every day. I would put the books in my car and then forget to swing by and put them in the drop box. As far as I know, I’m current with the Dallas Public Library and I owe nothing in books or fines.

Now that I live in Frisco, I don’t go to the library very often. Actually I’ve only been once. I made my husband return the book because the librarian was in my bunco group. A few months later I admitted to her that I was embarassed to go back to the library because I was two weeks late returning the only book I checked out from the library. It turns out that I shouldn’t have worried. The Frisco library is so small, they don’t even charge late fees. I guess they’re just happy to get the books back.

I don’t really feel guilty, just embarassed. I think I may still owe the Columbus Public Library something, but I used my little brother’s card to check out the books. I don’t think anybody has used that card in over a year now.

The other nearby library is in Circleville. I used to go there because they didn’t charge fines, they just had a donation jar. They started charging late fines though, probably because thier 100+ year old building is too small and needs repairs. They want to build a new library, but I like the cool ancient one. Thier fines are still much less than then in Columbus though, Circleville has a maximum fine of $1 per book even if you find the book a year after it was due.

I felt guilty during college and grad school when I borrowed books relevant to my classes. Not about the fines, but because I’d know there was another student who needed the books.

Now, I rarely go to public libraries. I’m a book fetishist with a huge library, and I usually think any book worth reading is worth owning.

I think library fines should be higher! Maybe not as high as video rental overdue fines, but definitely enough to give people pause (or make them stop pausing and bring the book on in).

OK, so I do need to feel guilty about making my librarian’s life difficult–I AM SO SORRY! Usually, I don’t care a bit about mere regulatory infractions–most parking and speeding tickets don’t represent any moral failing–but the public library fines are different–libraries are one of the few wholly benevolent government institutions we have; I’ve bought into the idea that they’re a good thing.

Grace, what is a bunco group? I only remember hearing the word “bunco” in the context of cheesy cop programs where they bust mob types for gambling.

Oh, and Five? I own A Lost Lady but had to check it out of the library because I couldn’t find it among my husband’s books.

Humble Servant

Effective cataloguing and shelving of our home libraries is a whole 'nother thread.