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Pre-Paid Overdue Fees

Gift idea and Library Fundraiser
  (+10, -7)
(+10, -7)
  [vote for,

I know I will check books out of the library, bring them home and forget them. I know I will owe overdue fees on those books. Why not have Pre-Paid Overdue Fines?

My local library already has in place the capacity for adding money to my libary card for use in photcopiers - there is a magnetic strip on the back on my card. Why not use the same technology for paying my fines?

It is a great gift idea for your favorite bookworm. It is a great fund-raising idea for libraries; since there is a substantial non-redemption of gift certificates in retail stores, I suspect a good deal of the money collected from Pre-Paid Overdue Fines would not be redeemed, so libraries could get a bunch of money up front.

My wife and I came up with this idea and presented it to a librarian at the circulation desk. The response was, "You mean you expect to bring you books back late?!?" Shamed, we replied, "no?" But we knew that if we could, we would put Pre-Paid Overdue Fees at the top of our Holiday and Birthday presents lists.

alagahd, Feb 07 2002


       While I am sure this idea is well-intentioned, I suggest that a better idea is to ask your local head-librarian his/her opinion of the most needed additions to the stacks. On at least two occasions, my local library has been glad to accept a new edition of encyclopedias, with the condition that upon delivery their existing edition was handed down to my child's (also local) school...a charitable gift that would not, indeed could not, have been ethically directly accepted by the local school, itself.   

       I would doubt that many librarians can get enthused about the prospect of offsetting late-fees with pre-paid variations of the same (In fact, I imagine they become even more cross-eyed over the idea), but ALL librarians positively LUST over the addition of some volume or another to their collection. Use that as the starting point to your philanthropy, and then we can all enjoy the benefits of your success and intentions.
jurist, Feb 07 2002

       jurist, yours is a well-reasoned response. Kudos.
bristolz, Feb 07 2002

       Bristolz, thank you for the very nice compliment, but I am quite sure that someone amongst our midst will point out that this is just another case of influence peddling and quite literally "fixing the books", especially in the wake of Enron, et al. To that end, I question the roots of all philanthropy and , indeed, the value of all impartiality.
jurist, Feb 07 2002

       That seems unduly cynical.  If there can be no more generosity that is taken at its face value for being just generosity, the world is lost--at least in my eyes.
bristolz, Feb 07 2002

       It's actually pretty simple for me: I love books; I love for other people to love books; I want my children to love books; ergo, I give books. I leave the characterization of motive to others.
jurist, Feb 07 2002

       Amen to idea and annos. L.A. has a new policy under consideration, if not already implemented. If a book is late - you'll have a negative mark on your Credit Report, of all things. I've donated a few to Libraries and bought a few at Library sales. I was a voracious reader before I ever heard a word (@ 2 yrs. 9 mos. diagnosed w/ 85% Nerve Deafness) and I always encourage parents to make reading a necessity for their kids.
thumbwax, Feb 07 2002

       Hmmmmm........ why don't you just *renew* the book when it's due for return? That way you don't have to pay any fines, and you stop us Librarians from becoming "even more cross-eyed" (thanks for that, [jurist]), than we already are?
salachair, Feb 07 2002

       That's what I always did when I was young. If a book was overdue, I'd sneak it into the library and take it out again (so the librarian would stamp a new date on it), and then take it back and hand it in. Voila! No fine. My criminal past.
hippo, Feb 07 2002

       My library lets you renew the book over the internet. Only a couple of times though, and it doesn't help if you completely forgot to take it back. I suppose you could have an online library (+parking fines, +ski hire deposits, etc) credit account, where your daily fine got paid each day until you took it back - then you could see how may fines you'd had the whole year.
sappho, Feb 07 2002

       Barcoded books in L.A. - Library Card is scanned. If you renew a book that is late, you still get charged.
thumbwax, Feb 07 2002

       Or, if you are a librarian, buy books with the library's money, take them for yourself and have your own library.
calum, Feb 07 2002

       Bravo for jurist's observations.   

       I can't favo(u)r this idea. It seems to promote actions library is trying to prevent. The fines are there to get you to bring the books back on time. I can't imagine they'd implement a system that makes the penalty easier.
waugsqueke, Feb 07 2002

       Quite right, thumbwax. Most libraries have automated management systems, and these can calculate accumulated fines, even if the book is renewed online or by phone. Librarians *want* people to borrow books (well, the bitter nasty old scary ones don't) so if, as you describe above, you are going away on holiday, just renew the book before you go. Or phone the library and explain when you will be back - we operate a fairly flexible system - if students know they won't be in when a book is due back we allow for that. See? We're not *all* meanies!
salachair, Feb 25 2002

       Is my local authority unique in implementing a system whereby the people who have least excuse for overdue books, ie old-age pensioners and the unemployed, pay reduced fines, whereas working people, who are less able to get to the library on time, pay full whack?
angel, Feb 25 2002

       I don't know, angel, but I have never heard of a system like that before. I certainly would be opposed to implementing such a system in my library - students and pensioners can renew their books in the same way as other sections of society - via phone, internet, or in person. In fact, those who are working, as you said, are likely to be least able to get to a library. Sounds like a policy which was implemented without too much thought to me! And anyway, we need to keep the income from fines high to bankroll our staff nights out.... (only joking).
salachair, Feb 25 2002

       How do old age pensioners, who often have difficulty getting around, have less excuse for returning books late than able-bodied working people, who're more likely to have cars/bikes? Last I checked, most libraries are open some evenings and/or weekends.
pottedstu, Feb 25 2002

       pottedstu: they don't. Nobody has more of an excuse than anyone else. Everyone is treated equally, ergo the same set of rules applies to all borrowers within a service.   

       However, if pensioners are housebound, they will have a service provided specifically for them - I have fond memories of driving around in the Mobile Library, and taking books to those whose age/disability would not permit them to visit the main library.
salachair, Feb 25 2002

       1) Anyone sufficiently able-bodied to withdraw a library book is sufficiently able-bodied to return it.
2) You've obviously never tried parking near my library.
3) Sure, they're open Saturdays. My point, that working people are *less* able to get there on time, still stands.
angel, Feb 25 2002

       Angel: I'm with you on this one. It can be a right pain trying to get to the library after work. However, as has already been said here, it is possible to renew books without going to the library. And I feel that if somebody doesn't feel able or willing to return books on time, they should look elsewhere for reading material.
salachair, Feb 25 2002

       salachair: "It can be a right pain trying to get to the library after work." Are you, or are you not, a librarian. Perhaps you are a freelance, rogue librarian?
calum, Feb 25 2002

       The library I used to go to, and all the ones I've seen <In the US, in Florida> have 'book drops' where one can deposit books whatever the hour. It doesn't save you from overdue fees if you're overdue already, but if the book is due tomorrow and it's 3am, you can get it in.
StarChaser, Feb 25 2002

       Better not whisper this one too loudly. My credit card company will pick up on the idea...
RayfordSteele, Feb 25 2002

       I think that for libraries the point is not so much the money from fines, but rather to get the books back on time so they can make them available for others. This idea doesn't help the library do that. Besides, what's the advantage of paying the fine before you bring the book back rather than after? And I don't believe very much of the credit would go unredeemed. Instead, enough people would be demanding refunds of their pre-paid fines that it might cost more in staff time to offset any benefits.
mrthingy, Feb 26 2002

       A "rogue librarian"? I wonder if I can get my job title amended.....
salachair, Mar 07 2002

       My local libe knows my email address. An email alerting system for overdue books? Particularly those that my daughter took out and lost under her bed? (I know, privacy concerns might inhibit this)
billblue, Mar 07 2002

       It could be packaged in a more positive light by presenting it like a PBS fundraiser. For a certain annual donation to the library, you get, as a free gift, the right to extend your borrowing periods.   

       For example, for an annual donation of, say, $20, your borrowing period gets extended by one week (so when you check out a book, you get to keep it for a week longer than someone who hasn't donated anything).   

       For a smaller donation, you could get a certain number of free days (so if you have 10 free days, you can keep one book for 10 days beyond the due date, or you can keep 10 books for one day beyond the due date).   

       Same idea, but it might sell better without referring directly to overdue fines.
impudent strumpet, Jul 07 2004


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