Wednesday, November 11, 2009

*gasp* Theft in the library?! Shocking!

The Post had an article about how 12 naughty patrons in Maryland are being indicted for stealing nearly $90,000 worth of books from the county libraries. The group of library users were checking out the maximum of 75 items for that county, most of them textbooks, never returning the items, then reselling the textbooks and sometimes CDs and DVDs online.
Two things shocked me about this story and neither of them had to do with theft in the library. The first thing that shocked me was that the people were actually being indicted and held responsible for their stolen book fines. Many times I have looked up a patron's account to give them their internet password to discover that they have at least $100 in fees for lost library items. Once, there was this girl who was a student and begged us to let her go over the regular interlibrary loan limit for her research paper and never returned any of the books, ruined our relationship with several lending libraries, and to this day still has an outstanding $843.99 in lost items on her card. What does my library system do when you don't return a book? We send you a letter. Are you scared yet?! I have heard of library systems that actually turn their nonpaying patrons over to collection agencies to try and recoup some of the costs, so obviously I'm pretty impressed that Maryland's state's attorney is going balls to the wall over this.
The second thing that shocked me was that these book recycling morons actually checked the items out to their own account, leaving a noticeable paper trail as to who had the missing book last instead of just stealing the stupid books in the first place since that's what they planned to do anyway. Sure, we have those electronic security gates at the entrance of our library, but we stopped putting the tattle-tape in the books eons ago. In fact, our security gates are just for show because they kept breaking and were so expensive to fix that they were left broken as a visual deterrent. You want to steal a book? No one's going to stop you. Hell, that's the reason why we can't keep any of the sex instruction books on the shelves. But then again I work for a library system that doesn't have loan limits or late fees, so maybe that's why our patrons take advantage of us.

However, we don't carry textbooks either -- I mean, come on, that's just asking for it.

1 comment:

  1. No borrowing limits or late fees!?!?

    Just the other day I had a patron incredulously ask why she was being charged for returning her books late. I just assumed it was her first experience at the library (shrug).