Thursday, September 28, 2006

Amnesty Day: The Refuge of the Weak

There is an appalling practice in our national library system, and I'm not going to stand for it any longer! Since the inception of the modern library, there has been a system in place in which people have to return the books at a specified time. By returning the books, you enable others to enjoy them. However, when a library patron does not return the book on time, there needs to be a punishment. When someone disobeys the rules, we punish them. This is usually done with late fees, which, if you ask me, are far too low.

Yet our current system offers a safe-haven for these rule-breaking book-borrowers: Amnesty Day. On Amnesty Day, the librarians, as good-natured as they all are, look the other way when you return your book late. They won't collect the late fees that are owed to them--no matter how high! This is both unacceptable and immoral. How can a librarian blatantly ignore someone who breaks the rules and incurs a hefty fine? That would be like the police officers saying, "Today, October 27th 1940, you can break the law and we won't arrest you!" There would be mass hysteria--exactly what is happening in libraries across our beloved country!

Firstly, our library customers should not need an "amnesty day." If you take out a book, and we give you two full weeks to read that book, you had better finish it in time! Because if you can't finish a book in two weeks, you shouldn't even try! I don't care if you are taking our the "Power and the Glory" or "War and Peace." If you take a book out, what you are doing is telling the librarian, "I can handle it."

Secondly, librarians across our country don't do enough to instill fear in their patrons! We, as defenders and lenders of the word, need to stand up for our books and services! You cannot let someone take out a book and then not bring it back on time. They see no problem with this; they can certainly handle the five cents it costs to return it late. Worse yet, some will just wait until Amnesty Day rolls around and then bring it in for free! It is unfair to the library, it is unfair to others who want to share in the love of that book, and it is unfair to those who work hard to get a tome read in under two weeks.

Recently, the Beaver County library system has been celebrating a county-wide amnesty week... except for the Aliquippa National Library! During this week, I am doubling fines for late books. Hopefully my firm stance on this 'get out of debt free!' day will bring about change in our fair and necessary library system.

-Dodge Intrepid, Librarian