On my recent visit to the Bradley library, I brought back my overdue book, which I placed in the appropriate bin. I found a new book to read and proceeded to the circulation desk. I was worried my overdue book would be noticed and I wouldn't be able to check out another one. "No problem," the young man said. "It must be because you are faculty/staff." After a friendly conversation, he told me the book would be due back next October. The book, a complete collection of Eudora Welty's novels, might take me that long to finish, I laughed.
I left feeling good. No fines, no holds, no reprimands. It reminded me of my trips to the Topeka Public Library when we lived in Kansas. That library welcomes visitors with a colorful, comfortable children's section by the front door. Next, you walk through a huge movie, music, and new book section that reminded me more of a being in a store where many treasures could be found. The main part of the library had stacks and stacks of good books. The best part about this library, however, was that they never charged late fines. When you checked out a book or CD, you were provided a due date, but were not treated like a criminal if you didn't return the item in time, as you are at so many libraries.
A recent item in the Peoria Journal Star told of the Peoria Library waiving late fines if patrons brought back their overdue items with a donation to the local food pantry. "People fear library fines more than parking tickets," the library director told the paper. So, why bother with them? People should love their public library, not fear it. Every library should be open and inviting with friendly staff. I believe that if people feel good about their library, they will return the items even if fines are not charged. Of course, some people won't. But isn't that true even with fines?
From the current Topeka Public Library website:
Question / Issue
What are the overdue fines?
Answer / Solution
No, we don't charge overdue fines.
However, we will charge replacement costs for items long overdue or for damaged