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  1. #1

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    Library sends police to collect overdue books from five-year-old girl

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...-old-girl.html

    In Massachusetts, it is a misdemeanor not to return library books. Hence, the library was within its rights to send the police to collect the books. Seems a little heavy handed to me, especially considering that the library was dealing with a five-year-old. I get that lost books costs libraries lots of money but I'm not sure this was handled in a good way.
    "If people are looking for guarantees, they should buy appliances at Sears and stay away from human relationships."~Prancer

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    From the article, it sounds like the police were sent out to collect a lot of books from a lot of people. I doubt they knew they were going after a 5 yr old in this case until they got to the house. The library may have not even known, they probably just printed out a list.

    Secondly, the child wouldn't have been the target anyway, this is a 5 yr old so their guardian would be the responsible one. That helps assure me that the library nor the police knew they were going to the house and asking to speak to some 5 yr. old kid. If they knew that they would ask to speak to the parents and the parents would be the ones getting scolded for not making sure the books were returned. How could a 5 yr old be expected to remember and even if they did, how would they return the book? Borrow moms car?

    The police officer should have known better than to even talk to the little girl. The mom is either making a big deal out of a simple mistake and/or the police officer took his job too literally.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigB08822 View Post
    The mom is either making a big deal out of a simple mistake . . .
    That's what it sounds like to me except that it wasn't a simple mistake when you hear that they had hundreds of dollars in fines for overdue books. Sounds like mom took advantage of her daughter being the target and went to the press about it.
    In my spare time, I like to interview figure skating legends.

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    I know that other libraries have put large overdue fines (e.g. $50.00 or more) on people's credit reports. In these particular cases, sending the police may have gotten library materials back into circulation. However, one has to wonder how to tackle this problem on a larger scale without ruffling people's feathers. In a large city, this wouldn't work. Putting fines on a credit report may work but I wonder how effective it is in getting lost materials back and fines paid.
    "If people are looking for guarantees, they should buy appliances at Sears and stay away from human relationships."~Prancer

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    My local papers have covered the story in depth. The police officer did not talk to the child. He spoke to the mother and the child was standing behind her and overheard the conversation, misunderstood, and thought she was going to be arrested. The mother then called the librarian and cursed her. Failing to get "satisfaction" that way, she called the media. Over-react much?

    Charlton is a very small town with limited resources. The books were more than a year overdue. The household had been called and notified by mail; the notices were sent to the library patron - in this case the father. The police were a last resort.
    I'd rather be thought of as absolutely ridiculous than as absolutely boring.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zaphyre14 View Post
    Charlton is a very small town with limited resources.
    I'm sure it is less expensive to send actual police officers to multiple homes to arrest (? that would be saving money for the town, too, no?) people for withholding library books than it is to try to solve the problem in some other way. After all, the police don't have anything more important to do.

    One word: overkill.

    Especially since libraries can be wrong, too. I got a notice about a book that I supposedly had failed to return. Guess what? Didn't happen. They wanted $32 for it, if I remember right (an esoteric book in Russian no one beside me would probably want to read here). My father said, just pay the damn thing and be done with it. I said I wasn't going to pay for something I didn't do. I'm pretty sure they lost the book since it was around the time they switched to drop-in boxes. Before you had to go inside when the library was open and return the books to a person who cleared your account. It is their word against mine (although I do have a witness since I made that person go out of her way when we were coming back from a trip to drive me to the library so I could return the books) which was part of the reason I chose not to fight it. Even if I "won", they would still think I kept the book which I didn't. Not a fan of drop-in return boxes anymore, I must say.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WindSpirit View Post
    After all, the police don't have anything more important to do.
    In a small town, they might not...

    If the police are on the clock, and nothing else is happening, it doesn't waste resources to have them stop by and talk to the mother.

    It sounds like multiple previous notices had been ignored. The family wasn't trying to fight it, they were just ignoring it. I don't think it is unusual at all for cities to send police to collect the book or the fee. It is only news because it was after a 5-year old, which it wasn't...it was after her mother.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    I don't think it is unusual at all for cities to send police to collect the book or the fee.
    I'd say it's rather uncommon

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    Media hype.
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    Quote Originally Posted by zaphyre14 View Post
    My local papers have covered the story in depth. The police officer did not talk to the child. He spoke to the mother and the child was standing behind her and overheard the conversation, misunderstood, and thought she was going to be arrested. The mother then called the librarian and cursed her. Failing to get "satisfaction" that way, she called the media. Over-react much?

    Charlton is a very small town with limited resources. The books were more than a year overdue. The household had been called and notified by mail; the notices were sent to the library patron - in this case the father. The police were a last resort.
    at this stupid mother. First of all, send your child out of the room. Second of all, explain to her that of course she won't be arrested. Lastly, RETURN THE DAMN BOOKS.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vesperholly View Post
    at this stupid mother. First of all, send your child out of the room. Second of all, explain to her that of course she won't be arrested. Lastly, RETURN THE DAMN BOOKS.
    That! /\

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    Quote Originally Posted by vesperholly View Post
    at this stupid mother. First of all, send your child out of the room. Second of all, explain to her that of course she won't be arrested. Lastly, RETURN THE DAMN BOOKS.
    Yes.
    3539 and counting.

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    Wow..I'm a librarian and just can't imagine doing this.

    Our system has a limit of $30. Once a patron goes over that limit, they receive at least two notices stating that they're in danger of being reported to the agency. After the last notice, we send their info to our collection agency.

    Even then, their credit report is not immediately dinged, the collection agency will contact them and let them that they have X amount of days to either pay the fines/return the books. Usually it's THAT notice that gets people scurrying in to the libraries to pay

    Libraries are suffering big time. My system alone has had to lay off half of its people...and we're a large system so it hurts because staff have been transferred left and right to fill in the holes. My branch alone went from 12 people to 8. Our book budget went from 7 million spread amongst 50 branches..to 1 million. Every book/dvd counts.

    I've had at least several instances where the patron (who is a mom) complains that it's the child's fault for not returning the books. Nevermind that they (the parent) was the one that signed the card for them and knew the rules/regulations.
    "Eve was not taken out of Adam's head to top him, neither out of his feet to be trampled by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaffeine View Post
    Wow..I'm a librarian and just can't imagine doing this.

    Our system has a limit of $30. Once a patron goes over that limit, they receive at least two notices stating that they're in danger of being reported to the agency. After the last notice, we send their info to our collection agency.

    Even then, their credit report is not immediately dinged, the collection agency will contact them and let them that they have X amount of days to either pay the fines/return the books. Usually it's THAT notice that gets people scurrying in to the libraries to pay

    Libraries are suffering big time. My system alone has had to lay off half of its people...and we're a large system so it hurts because staff have been transferred left and right to fill in the holes. My branch alone went from 12 people to 8. Our book budget went from 7 million spread amongst 50 branches..to 1 million. Every book/dvd counts.

    I've had at least several instances where the patron (who is a mom) complains that it's the child's fault for not returning the books. Nevermind that they (the parent) was the one that signed the card for them and knew the rules/regulations.
    I think a lot of people don't understand how important it is to return library items. I have a feeling that a lot of people aren't even aware of the slashed budgets that libraries across the country have encountered. Really, the fines aren't even that important (unless they're really high). The materials are. One library I shadowed at actually allowed children to "read off" their fines instead of paying them. I thought it was cute and it really shows that libraries (well, I'm still wondering about the library in MA) don't have the intention of being punitive.
    "If people are looking for guarantees, they should buy appliances at Sears and stay away from human relationships."~Prancer

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaffeine View Post
    Our system has a limit of $30.
    That's super low- at the rate our library fines ($1/day for most items) if you checked out a few things you'd hit that in no time.

    I have a friend who went to get her perschools son's first library book (in a different system than my current one) and found out she had a $780 fine from when she was 12, on a single book. They went to Barnes and Noble and bought a book instead, and when her husband got back from a deployment they got the son a library card in his name.

    What's weird is she had never gotten a notice, had no recollection of checking that book out (15 years earlier), and hadn't had it sent to collections. Even odder is I swear that library system has had amnesty dates, but maybe you only get amnesty if you go in and claim it, they don't just delete bills.


    Another weird thing is that our library has a drive each winter to help "the needy" pay off their overdue book fines. I wonder if that is only for people who ALSO have returned the material, but are banned from getting anything new until they pay.

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    I am incredibly grateful for the public library service and donate regularly besides paying my taxes to support it. The location that I use has been recently renovated and is just lovely. Also, everything is done by email and/or text. Courtesy notices that the item(s) will soon be due, notices that requested item(s) have arrived, etc. Love it!

    This woman sounds like an entitled brat. She didn't receive any of the late notices from the library? The liberary did seem to have her correct address, seeing as they sent the officer there. Well, OK, didn't they think that after over a year the books would be overdue?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaffeine View Post
    I've had at least several instances where the patron (who is a mom) complains that it's the child's fault for not returning the books. Nevermind that they (the parent) was the one that signed the card for them and knew the rules/regulations.
    Not saying this applies at all to you, but in at least a couple places I've lived, children were given library cards without any adult signing for it. In one case, it was mailed directly to them just because they were a student in the public school district.

    Now, that can be problematic because some parents don't want their children to have library cards because the parents know the children will check stuff out and never return it. So in those cases, I feel for the parents because the library and/or school district basically cut the parents out of the picture, but then hold the parents liable for any losses. Not really fair.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skittl1321 View Post
    That's super low- at the rate our library fines ($1/day for most items) if you checked out a few things you'd hit that in no time.

    I have a friend who went to get her perschools son's first library book (in a different system than my current one) and found out she had a $780 fine from when she was 12, on a single book. They went to Barnes and Noble and bought a book instead, and when her husband got back from a deployment they got the son a library card in his name.

    What's weird is she had never gotten a notice, had no recollection of checking that book out (15 years earlier), and hadn't had it sent to collections. Even odder is I swear that library system has had amnesty dates, but maybe you only get amnesty if you go in and claim it, they don't just delete bills.


    Another weird thing is that our library has a drive each winter to help "the needy" pay off their overdue book fines. I wonder if that is only for people who ALSO have returned the material, but are banned from getting anything new until they pay.
    A $1.00/day for non-DVDs is steep as far as library fines go. Even with that fine though, I think you have to have items checked out for a while or have many items checked out at the same time before getting a $30.00 fine. I've returned DVDs to my library late on occasion (it's a $1.00/day fine) and the largest fine I've had is $5.00.
    "If people are looking for guarantees, they should buy appliances at Sears and stay away from human relationships."~Prancer

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    Quote Originally Posted by agalisgv View Post
    Not saying this applies at all to you, but in at least a couple places I've lived, children were given library cards without any adult signing for it. In one case, it was mailed directly to them just because they were a student in the public school district.

    Now, that can be problematic because some parents don't want their children to have library cards because the parents know the children will check stuff out and never return it. So in those cases, I feel for the parents because the library and/or school district basically cut the parents out of the picture, but then hold the parents liable for any losses. Not really fair.
    This is true. It also doesn't make sense to me either. With material budget being cut, you would think that libraries would want parents to be responsible for books that there is a better chance of them being returned. I guess the libraries don't want to deny children access to library materials. However, children aren't the most responsible people so the library is playing Russian roulette with getting their books back in this instance.
    "If people are looking for guarantees, they should buy appliances at Sears and stay away from human relationships."~Prancer

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    If the library had given the card to the little girl without the parents' involvement, it would have been very likely mentioned in the article. The mother would have said that she knew nothing about her daughter having a library card, let alone having overdue books, which would have been a reasonable excuse. It wasn't mentioned though.
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