I spent yesterday morning going into some schools to advertise an upcoming library program. I was greeted with a very positive response and a lot of questions about library card fines.
High school students suffer the most from fines and fees because of how they used their cards as children. If the importance of returning stuff on time isn’t practiced with the parents – or, as often happens, a sudden move keeps them from returning to the library for a while – they would have been charged late fees and are now unable to borrow at an age when they are more independent and perhaps more responsible. In spite of seeing the Library as a potential source of more bills, I generally get good responses from students when I’m talking about what the library has to offer. They see it as an extremely valuable service even though they may may have to pay for something that was advertised as free. Usually, the reluctance to take advantage of the service has more to do with being ashamed or simply not wanting to deal with all of the bureaucratic stuff that goes along with paying one’s library card fine, which is completely understandable.
What few realize is that once outstanding fines are below $15, the rest of the balance can be paid off more slowly with no suspension of borrowing privileges. I regularly speak with patrons who don’t realize this. They may only need to pay a few dollars in order to start borrowing books again. At any rate, Brooklyn Public and New York Public Libraries now offer email and text message reminders to let patrons know when a due date is coming up and the ability to renew books online as long as someone else has not requested the item.
On the subway home I spotted a young man reading Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’ which has been so hyped over the years that I’ve never actually gotten around to reading it, which is a shame. The book distinguished for being the most translated book by a living author according to the Wikipedia entry. Certainly one to recommend to young men and reluctant readers. I’m going to pick it up next week!