Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Books are not Umbrellas

I hate it when I’m at work and there’s a downpour outside. It’s not because I wish I was outside jumping in puddles. It is due to the fact that some patrons like to use their library books as impromptu umbrellas and then drop them off at the ‘Returns Desk’ sopping wet and sticking together.

During one of our meetings, one of the numerous managers said that we cannot charge the patrons for the damage when it is raining. I honestly do not see why we can’t. If it was a sunny, dry day and a patron returns a book sopping wet, we are supposed to charge their account for the water damage. When it’s raining we are supposed to do nothing more than sigh and say, “oh these patrons.”

Do you patrons want another good tidbit of information when it comes to damaged books? If you ever happen to damage a book while it is in your possession, walk it into the library, go straight to the returns desk and hand it to someone and tell them that how sorry you are that the item got damaged during your checkout and ask them how much it would cost to fix it and mention that you’re willing to pay it right then and there. If the person working at the desk is like me, I would most likely be humbled by your remorsefulness and not inflict the cost of the book and processing fee on you. If you are completely selfish and uncaring at least put up a good front and act like you’re willing to pay for it, any gestures like pulling out your wallet out of your back-pocket or your checkbook from your purse will do. It can be such a hassle to pull a book from the book drop that is hanging by a thread and go through all the procedures to mark the book as damaged and charge the patron’s account and leave a note. Then when you try to check out you encounter a big fine amount and temporary memory loss kicks in and you don’t remember the book being damaged- “Maybe it was from the book drop with all the other books crushing it?”

Why go through all this unnecessary hassle? Yes, that black hole called the “Book-Drop” does end somewhere. When you drop late books they don’t magically travel back in time and not incur late fees and damaged books don’t come out like they came right off the printing press. Honesty pays off tenfold in life and the library is no exception. So if you want to hedge the risk of being charged with the price of a new book, tell the person working the circulation desk that you’re sorry and that you’re willing to pay for the damage book.

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