We go to the library regularly, so we generally have a huge stack of books checked out. It would be hard to keep track of due dates, except the library sends out a reminder email a day or two before things are due. I didn’t ask them to do that, but they do and it’s helpful and therefore I never, ever keep those little slips of paper that give the due dates.
That’s what the computer is for.
But today it hit me: I hadn’t gotten one of those handy emails for awhile. It felt like a long time, in fact. While straightening the living room, I found a DVD that I had checked out. Hmm, those only check out for a week. Seems like I’ve had this longer than a week.
So I logged in to my account online and WHAT?!? It listed 11 overdue items, in bright red font to make sure I felt the full extent of my irresponsibility and shame. Also, an item I had placed on hold was available for pick up. Never got an email about that, either.
I quickly gathered all of our library materials and headed out the door for an impromptu library trip. I knew I wouldn’t be able to rest until I took care of the 11 – ELEVEN – overdue and fine-accruing items.
The librarian told me – as I fully expected – that the reminder emails were just a courtesy and that the library is under no obligation to remind me of due dates. I explained to her, nicely, that I understood that, but also suggested that when the emails are sent on a regular basis, one does tend to rely on them. As we were talking, another woman came by and began telling the other employee how she did not receive a due date reminder and had just realized that materials were overdue. Aha! It wasn’t just me!
The other deliquent patron and I were informed that there had been a recent significant software update, and the lack of reminder emails was a result of a few kinks that were being worked out. I smiled, patient, understanding. Sure, things happen.
And then she told me that I still owed the $5.10.
Apparently, patrons have to pay fines whether the system is working properly or not.
Now, I really try hard not to claim “it’s not fair” as an excuse. I do understand that it’s my job to keep track of due dates. But doesn’t it seem like there should be some sort of grace given to those of us affected by the problems with their upgrade? Discounted fines? Some acknowledgment that the library’s less-than-perfect upgrade actually affected patrons?
What say you? Team Library or Team Melanie?