By Kathie Felix
In my little corner of the world (northern Virginia), the local library system recently instituted a policy of charging fines for overdue materials. As I understand it, the county’s residents lived without overdue penalties all these years because, up until recently, this was essentially a rural county where folks had to travel long distances (with no opportunity for public transport) to visit a library. The powers that be considered overdue books to be a matter of course in such a situation and didn’t want to impose an economic burden on an already-stretched community.
Things have changed here these days. The suburbs have taken over the fields – and I’m not sure if there’s a dairy farmer left in the county. At the same time, the local tax base is shrinking due to losses in the real estate and business communities.
Lately, the county budget is being stretched like taffy in a candy shop window at the beach. Every local agency and system is under the order to “do more with less” and, I guess, this fine-collecting idea is a way to ease some burden somewhere.
I’m not sure what I think about the new fines – or the kiosk-based method of collecting them. I do know that I’m very glad that, up until recently, I lived in a community that considered access to library materials more important than economic sanctions.
This brings me to a couple of questions for the weekend:
Have you returned all those books you’ve been meaning to get back to the library?
What treasures did you find in the library this week?