Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Library Fines

Like many new immigrants in America, one of the most positive experiences I had about the country when I first came here, was the public library system. The small town where I grew up in India had a library too. So scanty was its collection that I had managed to read everything of interest to me in two or three years.

I would compile long lists of books I'd like to see in the library and hand it to the powers that be. Sometimes my wishes would come true and being the librarian's best buddy I enjoyed privileged access to all the new arrivals. It was a good arrangement considering how limited my options were but I longed for more all the time. I could check out two books at a time for two weeks and the fines were steep.

I remember my first time inside a public library in the US - feeling overjoyed at the abundance, unlimited checkouts and the eagerness of the staff to help me find things and answer questions. J and I use the local public library a lot - its one of our favorite places to go on Saturday afternoons. I have not paid a lot of fines but never feel any diminished goodwill when I have had to. I think the modest fines keep borrowers disciplined and help them value the generosity of a service that they would otherwise take for granted or worse abuse. I would definitely not support abolishing library fines.

1 comment:

ggop said...

The fine for books in public libraries is a pittance unlike a fine for late rental of dvds or videos in Blockbuster. I do not support abolishing fines either!