I paid off a collection of library fines this evening that totaled $15.75. A lot when you consider that libraries, by design, are meant to be free. But not a lot when you consider just 1 hardcover book can run you upwards of twenty-five bucks. That $15.75 comes from a total of 13 different books. Thought I’d share some of the highlights from the list.
The smallest fine came to twenty-five cents. That because I neglected to return The World According to Mister Rogers. I have no regrets about this fine or this book. I borrowed it to complete research on the one-man play I was writing about Mister Rogers. I’ve since sold the two year rights to that play and they paid me more than a quarter, so I came out in the black.
The highest fine is also my most recent one. $2.25 for an overdue copy of The Best American Essays: 2010. I actually called to refute this fine because I thought that I had returned the book. I spent about fifteen minutes looking for it in my apartment, purses, shelves–nothing. Then, several days later, I found the book inside of a bookbag I hadn’t used in awhile.
Most unfortunate fine: 75 cents for a book titled The Hidden Power of Dreams. I don’t think I read more than three pages of this book. I picked it up because I saw the spine and said to myself, “Yes, I do think there is hidden power in dreams. I will read this and affirm that thought.”
The receipt the library gave me after I paid is almost 19 inches long. I was worried that the guy at the circulation desk would tsk me. Tell me I’m a lazy, irresponsible person for accumulating fines I could have easily avoided, as well as keeping materials from other library patrons in doing so. But I don’t care. I look at this long receipt and I feel a distinct sense of pride. To me the receipt and the fines say–You read. You’re literate. You like ideas and information and the written word. You like them so much, you hoard them. You carry them around with you everywhere and you know you have to return them at some point, but not today. Or, maybe it is today, but what can ya do?
I hope the NYPL appreciates my money. I could use that money, but I know they can, too.