Monday, November 24, 2008

It Pays to be Nice to Those Working the Circulation Desk

Librarians (Librarian Aides) can make or break your day, period.
The power that I wield with my circulation desk position is absolutely scary.

Last Saturday, a woman comes up to the desk with 5 books and tells me that they are, "very late." She had a very downtrodden gait, and her disposition was outright gloomy. I take the books and scan them in, it gives me the dreaded, "Warning -- These items are assumed missing or lost," which usually means the highest late fee per item. Her total fines came out to $50. I turned the computer screen her way so she could see for herself since she was quite shocked when I told her how much it came out to be. And without hesitation she pulled out that "VISA" embossed rectangular piece of plastic that most are trying not to use nowadays and held it out for me to swipe. It was then after reading her body language the whole time: the sincere regret that they were overdue and owning up to the late fees; that I told her to wait a second and let me take a look at something. I looked at her past bills and there wasn't anything on it. So I told her that since she hasn't had any problems returning books in the past that I was going to waive half of it. Her face lit up like it she won the Megamillions lottery. She asked me incredulously, "Really?" I just replied with a nod and a smile. Instead of having to deal with those horrid three letters, APR, she gave me cash, thanked me profusely, and left with a spring in her step and a bright smile on her face. Sure the County is in a horrible budget crunch right now and is looking everywhere to cut corners, but I don't care.

It never ceases to amaze me that those who are always willing to pay their fines are the ones with the large amounts. The ones with a couple of dollars or even 75 cents are the ones that make the biggest fuss over it. I am more than willing to forgive part and sometimes all of someone's fines who occasionally returns a book late only if they are honest and take responsibility up front. I am sure I am not the only one that feels this way. Be nice to the people working the Circulation Desk, it could really save you some money in the end.

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