The library staff put these fliers in the last three books I’ve checked out like it’s a good thing. No more fines! Now there is no reward for responsibility, and carelessness is reinforced.
It has been no small laughing matter that I incurred fines when I was a child. Perhaps you’ve read my lament about losing Toby Tyler and the Circus, the months long search for it, and the fine my mother ended up paying. I was so ashamed that I didn’t need any punishment. When it finally turned up, years later, between the wall and my bed, I didn’t even feel joyful. I’m still rather upset about that book.
When my son was in high school he had a fine for something like $500.00 due to all the CDs he’d left in his car for months and months. I’m sure some were probably lost, too. Remembering my experience with Toby, I thought he should ask the library if we could replace them. “No,” they said. They also would not agree to a deal in which we paid half. So, the Christmas money from his grandparents went to the library that year.
Both of our experiences were uncomfortable. I clearly remember each one, although they were thirty years apart. But, they taught us something! We learned that we needed to care for what was not our own. We learned the value of time and honoring a due date. We learned that there were consequences for irresponsibility.
Now the library is saying, in essence, “Don’t worry if you accrue fines! Now you can return your books whenever you please.” Here is how the back of the flyer explains their new policy:
Naperville Public Library is no longer charging fines for overdue items. Those who do not return materials on time will have their accounts locked after seven days rather than accruing fines. Once an item is returned, the account will be unlocked.
This new policy will allow for:
* Increased flexibility for our customers.
* Equitable access to resources.
* Better customer service.
* A continued commitment to responsibly utilizing Library resources.
Every day I wake up wondering what new policy will replace the old. And, when I discover what it is, I rarely find a plan that promotes morality, or responsibility, or personal accountability. It seems that things are just made “easier” for everyone, and that cannot be a good thing. My mother has a fabulous saying. “Education is expensive,” she says, and it is! We learn when things are hard, as this great quote reiterates:
“Nothing worth having comes easy.”-Theodore Roosevelt
Silly library, what are you teaching?