Thursday Thoughts: Overdue books.



This Thursday I would like to talk to you a little about overdue books.  I came up with the idea of this topic while working on the current overdue books this week at my library.

First off let me just say this, it happens.  Life gets in the way, we get busy, our schedule changes and we forget to renew or return a book.  No. Big. Deal.  Really.  If a librarian gives you a hard time about not returning a book, you are either a repeat offender or they are having a bad day.  Try not to take it personally.  Unless you are a repeat offender, then try to figure out why you can’t seem to get your books back on time and work on changing that.

Second, the most important advice I can give you is to return the book or item!  Even if you can’t pay the fine, the library just wants to get their items back so it can be made available to other patrons. Also think how frustrating it might be for someone to be anxiously waiting on that book they want to read only to have it be held up by someone who forgets or is afraid to return it to the library.

But I’m afraid of what my fine might be?  Most libraries will work with you on the fine, and usually you have to reach a certain $ amount before you even lose library privileges.  Find an item that has been out for weeks or months?  Worried that you might even owe more than the book is worth?  Well try not to worry, most libraries have a maximum amount in fines an item can reach.  For example my library’s fine are 10 cents a day with the maximum amount any item can rack up in fines is $5.  Now if you have five things overdue that are maxed out it can still rack up, but at least return the book so the fine stops growing!

What if I’ve lost the book, or my new puppy ate it? Go into the library and talk to them.  Again these things happen and you can always pay to have the item replaced.  DON’T go out and buy another one to replace it though.  Libraries often can get the book for cheaper through their distributors, and if your library is like ours they will only charge you what it costs them to buy a new version of the book you need to replace.  We aren’t going to judge you, but we appreciate it when you are being honest with us!  We want you to use the library and most librarians will go to great lengths to make sure any situation is worked out fairly for everyone!

Remember that overdue library books happen to everyone.  Even librarians, and if we can’t get our book back on time when we freaking work there…well, see how we can understand your situation.  However, keep in mind that in many states it is against the law to not return library books.  Seriously. Now it is going to take a lot for a library to resort to turning you into the police, but it can happen.  So just return the book.  Even if you don’t want to face us to do so, drop it in the return box.  At least the library will have their books back and you will have a clean conscience.

So what do you think?  Are you afraid to return overdue library books?  What is your library’s policy on overdues?  Have any creative ways that your library lets you pay off fines?  Share in the comments!


7 thoughts on “Thursday Thoughts: Overdue books.

  1. Once, after I had moved about 800 miles, I found a library book under the front seat of my car. I called the library to ask how much the fine was so that I could include it when I mailed the book back to them. They waived the fine, saying that they would just be happy to have the book returned.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a good patron and excellent point! Many libraries will even waive fines when items are returned with extenuating circumstances. Also, you can return a book to any library in the country and they will send it back to its home(the shipping cost will be reimbursed to the shipping library). We once had a movie that was returned to a library in Florida that was then mailed to a library with the same name in Maine and then return to us in Iowa. Such an adventure it must have gone on.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When I was a kid and used the library a lot I was always returning the books late. Like always. I was on my own a lot and I could not get my shit together. The librarian in our town was always so nice, I normally just had to pay a fraction of the fine. Once I dropped a book in a mud puddle and I was really upset. I had no money to pay for a book. I tried drying it out with a hair dryer but it was ruined. The librarian was so understanding. She told me not to worry about it and the library can get a free replacement. I don’t know if this was true but for a kid who didn’t have two nickels to rub together, and loved the library, this was an amazing relief.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a sweet librarian and story, thanks for sharing. I can think of our own patrons that we have ‘bent’ the rules for too. Librarian want people to use libraries so most of the time we go out of the way to keep patrons coming back and encouraging young readers. We also tend to to know our patrons and who needs the slack cut for them more than others. On the flip side know when the system is being played too as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I once had about ten overdue books that had maxed out the fine limit of $10 each… So my fine was $100! I was so stressed as an unemployed student, I couldn’t afford a $5 fine let alone $100! I stuck my head in the sand and pretended it wasn’t a problem, until I started getting letters in the post demanding that I pay for new copies! I saved up the $100 and took the books to the library, only to discover that they were accepting a canned good in lieu of fines. The lovely librarian sent me next door to buy a can of beans! I donated the extra $99 to the friends of the library though, I was overwhelmed by their kindness!


    1. What a fortunate fine event you lucked into and such a nice librarian too! And what a great person you are for donating the rest of your fine to the friend’s group, that was sweet. Applause to you! This is another good point though, returning the books will mean you aren’t responsible for replacing them. Might not let you off the hook for a fine, but they probably won’t pursue legal actions then either.


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