Library fines can feel like an irksome tax on the forgetful and the hung-over, but with these tips you can escape their clutches forever...by Tom Bray
Even though I have grown up in a society which involves fines for all sorts of ill behaviour (including, incidentally, the compulsive hording of borrowed books), I still find it a little strange that I am sometimes compelled to walk into the library, approach the Help Desk with a plucky smile, and then hand over any small change I had been saving for a pint over at the Duck. ‘Here’, I want to say, ‘take my ill-gotten gains, and I hope that you find a better use for it than me.’
In short, there is nothing fine about Library fines. And yet, they are an inevitable part of the student experience, a veritable tax on the forgetful or the hung-over. Frustratingly, it is often the books you are not really using which end up costing you, since these are the ones which sit forgotten on your bookshelf, slowly and invisibly taking money from your pockets. If you are now thinking of an aged hardback with tiny, weedy arms, then my job is done. If you are not thus minded, however, then I implore you to read these three tips on how to avoid the pesky library fine. Go on, it won’t cost you anything.
1. Check your Library account
It may sound simple, but it’s nonetheless effective. Quite simply, go to the library catalogue, click on ‘My Library Account’, and think: are any of these books costing me money? Are any of them threatening to do so? Sorting your ‘items checked out’ by due date (I always think of little baby books gestating in the stacks at this point…but that may just be me) will make it that little easier to see which of your borrowings are in danger of going from fine to fined.
If you get into the habit of checking your online account every day, especially if you are wont to use the Short Loan Collection, then it will be one big step towards banishing the spectre of the fine from your life for evermore.
2. Renew for a new you
So, it’s come to this: your time with a book is coming to an end, and the due date is looming like some unknowable monster. This will fill you with shock, fear, even trepidation. There is a solution, however: renew, and you will have a little more time in which to bask in the warmth of your literary cum academic friendship.
What is even better is that you can renew your books from anywhere. If you speak to previous generations, they will tell you of long and dangerous expeditions across sea and desert, along mountain ranges and beneath the skies, all to renew their borrowings. Not anymore, I am glad to say: now you just connect to your account online, make a few clicks, and that due date has suddenly been pushed back. This will leave you more time for the finer things in life, such as sunsets, love, and meals consisting of nowt but Nutella.
One important piece of advice: do make sure that your books have actually renewed. If someone else has put a hold on them (I put a hold on you! ‘Cause you’re mine!), then you won’t be able to renew them, and it will be with sadness that you will have to part with your new friend. It’s okay, though: the library will find them a good home soon enough.
You don’t need to be a racing driver to avoid library fines: use the online resources and your email for peace of mind.
3. Take heed of the email reminders.
Even if it is a good way of getting coppers into the building, the good people at the Library don’t actually like it when people accrue fines. They are officially reckoned to be a ‘bad thing’. All the staff would much rather the books are returned or renewed on time, leaving you with more money for Nutella and Nutella-related products (other hazelnut spreads are available).
To this end, the Library will send you email reminders, a gentle digital nudge to indicate that your books are due to be returned or renewed in a few days’ time. Do not ignore these! Instead, read the email carefully, and think, What am I gonna do? Return or renew (try rapping it)…?
Then the problem is out of your hands, and you can return to whatever you were doing before (as an aside: the email usually arrives at around six in the morning, so if you are there when it pings into your inbox, then you are either an admirably early riser or a commendably fun person).
Be aware, however, that these tips will only take you so far. At some point, you will actually need to return the books (or DVDs, or VHSs, or dog bowl [seriously, search for ‘dog bowl’]): so make sure that you keep ‘em safe and don’t use them as collateral in illegal games of poker. In fact, stay clear of illegal poker altogether, if you ask me. You’ll have to find another way of using all that cash which you’ll be saving now that you’re free of Library fines.
I suggest a piggy bank. Or a self-portrait made of pennies. Go on, treat yourself, you master of the Library you!
Image: A fine of two cents/Terry Bain/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0