In years past, the library has offered several fine amnesty programs. For instance, we have, at various times, encouraged people to drop off cans of food. In exchange, we wipe out old debts, and pass the food along to some worthy charity.
I'd like to introduce a different program: for one week, make a point to pay your fines with real money. Why? Because there's an important civic project underway, and it deserves your financial support.
Since this column comes out so close to Independence Day, let me recommend a
book. It's called "The Founding Brothers: A Revolutionary Generation," by
Joseph Ellis. It's available from our libraries in several formats: book,
large type, CD, Cassette, and now, even on VHS and DVD.
It's a shame they don't teach history this way. Instead, we get elementary
school fiction, in which the Founding Fathers did boring things, building to
the inevitable climax of our own perfect government.
There seem to be two things that everybody knows about public libraries.
First, we collect fines. The collective guilt of America about overdues is staggering.
People, please! For most things, we charge the same rate we did 20 years ago: a nickel a day. It always caps out way, way less than the cost of the item. We just want you to bring things back so other people can use them. Relax!
The second thing people know is the phrase, "the Dewey Decimal System."