Marion the Librarian
By ice rivers
I've always loved the library. I have five library books out at the moment. I got a notice from the library that my books would be due soon. I haven't finished all of them yet and I have another title on reserve that I will pick up when it becomes available so I renewed all the books that will be due soon. It may be awhile before the book that I'm waiting for becomes available.
You ever hear the story about thetheif who went into the black market and sold a stolen cubic zirconia ring for 20 grand only to find out that the money was counterfeit....not only was the money counterfeit but he had been short'changed and only got 19 thousand dollars of counterfeit money back for the fake diamon which pissed him off more than the counterfeit rip off in the first place.
It gets pretty abstract doesn't it.
We're facing an abstraction in our library here in Charlotte. Our libraries have become so wounded by books not being returned that they have begun a new policy that has two parts; 1) forgive all past library fines 2) stop fining people for overdue books.
The first part of the policy was aimed at folks who were too ashamed or too broke to return the books, confront the stern visage of Marion at the desk and pay the fine. The hope was that hundreds, perhaps thousands of books would be returned and put back into circulation. In doing so, the library system forgave $600,000 in fines.
The second part of the policy focused on COVID. Since the libraries were closed down for months during the height of COVID and the only way to return books was to drop them off outside the library itself. The returned books themselves were then placed in quarantine and could not be checked out by anyone.
So this leads me back to the beginning. I'm the type of guy who will do the right thing when it comes to library usage. There's nothing else like a library. You want a book. The library gives it to you. You need a book, it's probably available in the library or they will try their best to get it to you. All you've got to do is bring it back when it's due or renew it if you haven't finished it and it's all free which is in complete contrast to the malls where consumers buy items they don't need with money that they don't have.
Why do I bother to renew the books that I have? I won't be fined if I return them late. It's another conundrum. What is the right thing? Is this the death knell of libraries? What stops a person from stealing books from the library and reselling them? Only the threat of receiving counterfeit money in return for the books that you stole and then getting shortchanged on the money you receive in return. There is another sad factor at work....nobody wants to buy a book because it means reading and there's no time for reading when we can go watch an adaptation on teevee while texting one another about the true crime series to which we've become addicted.
And the book that I'm waiting for, the one that's on hold, how long will it be before it is returned if ever. The North Carolina library circulation system is loaded with blockages, I'm afraid.