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Gentle warning: ‘No fines’ policy is in jeopardy
Wednesday, July 22, 2009

After a five-month test of a new policy eliminating fines for overdue books and other materials, library director Jackie Welch announced in May of 2008 that the new policy was working so well she was keeping it in place.

Now she is having second thoughts.

It turns out that too many of our patrons are taking advantage of the generous policy. They are starting to keep the items they have checked out until they receive a final overdue notice in the mail – a practice that causes your library unnecessary extra expense and means other patrons waiting for an item have a very long wait indeed.

For now Jackie will continue the policy of no fines for overdue books, CDs, tapes, DVDs and other materials. After all, we’d rather have the materials returned late than not at all, because replacing lost materials is an expensive proposition.

But, everyone should be aware that the “no fines” policy is in jeopardy and being reviewed for possible change.

Library books and other materials are due three weeks from the day they are borrowed. They can be renewed for an additional three weeks unless they are so popular that someone else has reserved them. Previously, fines for late returns had been 10 cents a day. With the maximum allowable 12 books checked out to an adult, for example, plus additional books for your children, the fines could quickly add up if you got behind or forgot to return the books.

In the past, fines for overdue books and other materials brought in approximately $2,500 a year to our library. When the “no fines” policy was implemented, Jackie borrowed an idea from the Bayfield Library to put a “conscience jar” on the main desk for people to voluntarily contribute the equivalent of fine money if they chose. It has resulted in many donations, but not quite as much as the old fines would have generated.

“The objective of fines has never been to punish people or even to make money for the library,” Jackie said. “We just want to encourage our patrons to bring books back on time so they are available for other people to enjoy. For a small library like ours, this is an important issue since we do not have a lot of space or unlimited finances to purchase more books and materials. Our mission and our purpose is to make it easy for people to read.”

Note that the no-fines policy does not apply to lost book fees. If you lose a library book or any other material, you must pay the replacement cost – the price plus a $5 processing fee – and you lose your right to borrow any more books or other materials until you do so. Please note that the library considers books or materials–“lost” other than when a patron says they are lost. Seven days after the due date, we send out a past due notice. If the materials are not returned within two weeks, a final notice is sent saying if the materials are not returned within 14 days they will be considered lost and the patron’s account will be charged the replacement cost.

Book sale/bake sale

We hope you’re planning to attend the annual Friends of the Library book sale July 17-18. The annual meeting, potluck and advance sale to members takes place Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. The public book sale is Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. – and for the first time ever, the great cooks from the Women’s Civic Club will have their goodies on sale. Both events are at the Community Center. New members will be warmly welcomed Friday evening and you may pay your dues at the door. Memberships are $15 for an individual, $25 for a family and $100 for a lifetime individual. About 3,600 books will be available to enhance your personal library and to raise funds for the Sisson Library.

New novels

“You Or Someone Like You” by Chandler Burr follows what happens when a wealthy wife starts a book club for the Hollywood elite. “The Story Sisters” by Alice Hoffman charts the life of three sisters as they become women and face the results of their choices. “Matters of the Heart” by Danielle Steel is a novel of suspense featuring a photographer who accepts a last-minute assignment to flying to London to photograph a celebrated Irish-American author.

Series for pre-teens

We have three books from the popular Power of Three Warriors fantasy series by Erin Hunter: “Eclipse,” “Long Shadows” and “Sunrise.” We have four books from the Stink series by Megan McDonald: “The Incredible Shrinking Kid,” “Stink and the Incredible Super-Galactic Jawbreaker,” “Stink and the World’s Worst Super-Stinky Sneakers” and “Stick at the Great Guinea Pig Express.” We have two more books from the history and mystery Magic Tree House series: “Monday with a Mad Genius” and “Dark Day in the Deep Sea.” We also have book four in the Beyond the Grave series by Jude Watson — “The 39 Clues.” All these books are aimed at students in the third through seventh grades.

Mysteries and thrillers

“The Dark Horse” by Craig Johnson is another in the Walt Longmire mystery series, this one set in Wyoming. “Flood” by Stephen Baxter features a NASA scientist researching extreme weather and facing the danger of rising waters across the globe. “Fugitive” by Phillip Margolin is a tale of international intrigue and murder featuring criminal lawyer Amanda Jaffe. “Face of Betrayal” by Lis Wiehl tells what happens after a 17-yea-old Senate page disappears in Washington, D.C.

Non-fiction

“Uranium” by Tom Zoellner is a fascinating story of the strongest element the earth can yield, taking us from slave camps in Africa to other places on five continents in a book that is equal parts history, investigative journalism and nonfiction thriller. “The Myth of the Rational Market: A history of risk, reward and delusion on Wall Street” by Justin Fox chronicles the rise and fall of the efficient market theory and the century-long making of the modern financial industry. “Artist to Artist” is a collection of comments by 23 major illustrators who talk to children about their art.

Thanks to our donors

We are grateful for generous contributions in memory of William Seielstad from Mr. and Mrs. Gary Caravalho, E.B Hamilton, Ken and Linda Morrison, and Jacquelyn Schick

For books and materials this week we thank Anne Allison, Lindy Bauer, Diane Bower, Pat Evans, John Gabel, Julie Gates, Sid Harris, Karen Hoch, Bamma Laizure, Joel NaKama, Anna O’Reilly, Buster Overly, Joyce Ryan, Linda Tilson, Betty Touloumis and Margaret Wilson.

Quotable quote

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.” — Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens), American author and humorist.

Web site

For more information on library books, services and programs — and to reserve books from the comfort of your home — visit our Web site at www.pagosa.colibraries.org.