The Library Isn’t Free When You Pay $17 In Fees

by The Happy Rock on May 8, 2008

childrens-books-elephant.jpgJust got back from getting another round of books for The Pebble, but I had to pay $16.95 in back fines/fees just to checkout. Being a couple days late when you have 2-3 books out isn’t too bad, but ever since The Pebble hit reading age we have been getting out 10 books at a time. Leave for one vacation without returning books, and be a couple days late a few times and you are paying $17 to rent books rather than utilizing a free public service. We still probably got great value despite the fees, but it could have been FREE!!! Children’s books + library + inadequate return planning = the potential for some financial leakage.

Anyone with children have a great system for using the library efficiently and free?

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Pete @ biblemoneymatters May 8, 2008 at 9:44 am

My wife was pretty sick the last few weeks, and during that time I forgot to return a book on saving and investing. Duh. Trying to read up on how to make more money, but I ended up racking up several dollars in late fees. Oh well. It happens.


Ed May 8, 2008 at 11:01 am

Wow, I’m not the only one who accrues Library fines? At our library they have a $10 fee cap, which prohibits you from checking stuff out if you reach it. I’m usually running at around $9 in fees.
Our library has a good online presence: http://www.bcls.lib.nj.us/

You can manage your checkouts(order, renew, cancel) all via Internet. I wish they had a recommendation feature like netflix.

Twice a year our library has a used book sale for fundraising. We often save a ton of money on books we need for homeschooling.


Ed May 8, 2008 at 11:04 am

Oh yeah. I’m trying to learn German. Rosetta Stone software is among the best, but it is oh so expensive. I get it for ‘free'(minus my taxes) through the library.


Eden May 8, 2008 at 11:12 am

I’m really good at this too! I think my record was about $60 in fees (I think there must have been some penalties thrown in). For the most part, I don’t bother with the library, but my wife still goes on occasion and paid about $5 in fees recently…at least it is for a good cause (I hope).


Matt May 8, 2008 at 1:35 pm

I’ve done that a few times myself – when you end up seeing the fines it makes you question the effort of renting books from the library. I still think its better than buying (especially with a child)


bethh May 8, 2008 at 5:31 pm

I am a librarian, and I used to work in a public library. Once a year we had a food-for-fines deal – for every canned/boxed food item patrons donated, we’d waive a dollar in fines. It was a HUGE benefit for the local food bank, and the patrons loved it.

I think it was discontinued because of the city manager, so if your library doesn’t offer this, suggest it to the staff AND to the local politicians who keep an eye on the budget. The goodwill it generated was massive, and it was great that people who couldn’t pay fines out of pocket could find a way to clear their records.

Now that I’m not in my library every day, I have signed up for http://www.libraryelf.com – it sends me emails when things are nearly due, and can track more than one library record at once. It doesn’t work with all brands of library software, but works with the biggies. It is AWESOME.


speedy May 8, 2008 at 6:00 pm

If your library offers e-mail reminders a few days ahead of when books are due, like my local library does, that’s great.

But if they don’t, you can use a free e-mail service like iwantsandy. Have the service alert you a few days prior to the due date, and then you will have a reminder and can add it to your to-do list.


Sharon Rowe May 8, 2008 at 8:03 pm

As a librarian, I can tell you that many libraries offer vacation checkout. You have to ask for it when you check out the materials, so it does require a little planning. For ordinary situations it would not work: however, I have seen it used also for school projects.


The Happy Rock May 8, 2008 at 8:22 pm

@Sharon – Thanks for the tips on vacation checkouts, very helpful!
@speedy – I wish my library did that, but the fees really help them use less taxes if I had guess.
@beth – That site is just awesome. Just what I was looking for! I think it will require a post to itself, once I use it!
@Matt – I think it is better than buying, kids like the variety.
@Ed – Your right, the library does offer many types of books and services beyond just the ‘normal’.
@Pete – Sorry to hear about the wife. The library might even remove the fees in a case like that.


Sue May 9, 2008 at 12:24 am

Check if you can renew your books on line. We can check out books at the library and renew the books twice on line.


t May 19, 2008 at 2:39 pm

Earlier in the year, I had renewed a book twice and then got busy/stressed. I forgot about the book being due! The amount of the fine was close to how much I could have picked up a paperback copy of the book.


The Happy Rock May 19, 2008 at 3:45 pm

@Sue – I can renew online, but once the book is late you you can’t renew. Also they don’t provide any reminders which is the biggest problem, but that is part of the business model.


Joan December 4, 2008 at 5:10 pm

I’m a teacher and try being in my shoes when I let the kids go to the library and rent on my card! I’ve paid fines over $100.00 easy at my library. They probably love it when I’m late!


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