Who would read a Library Clerk blog for mere entertainment? I don't know. I think people are here to glean valuable insider information. That is why today I have more tips for you! Today's valuable insider tips are all about how to contest your library fine.
1. If your fine is tiny, just let it go and pay for it. Yes, you are right! Yes, it is the principle of the thing! But you can achieve a tiny greatness here for only ten cents.
2. If you're sure you have been fined unjustly (and your fine is not tiny), contest it! I don't want you paying us money that you don't owe us. We're just blowing your money on too many James Patterson books that'll be doorstops in a year anyway.
3. If you decide to refrain from contesting your fines, please also refrain from bitter martyrous muttering as you pay it. If you contest unsuccessfully you can mutter bitterly if you want to.
4. Be specific: "I returned that book the same day I returned 6 others I checked out at the same time." is great! "But I never return books late!" is profoundly unimpressive.
5. Be confident. If the choice is between you're pretty sure you returned those on time and our computer system's specific accounting of the time it came back being 3 days late I will go with our computer system, as it is more dispassionate about and uninvested in the whole thing.
6. If you get caught out as wrong, go like Bugs Meany and concede the fight. "I am positive I returned it in the afternoon on Thursday before Sasha's soccer practice." met with "Yes, but it was due on Tuesday and that's why there's a two dollar fine." should conclude the contestation.
7. Please refrain from irrelevant arguments and faulty reasoning arguments. "I didn't realize the book was under the seat of my car." is a sad anecdote, not a reason for fine removal. "If it was due on the 22nd and I returned it on the 24th I should only have to pay for one late day, the 23rd." is bizarrely compelling, but actually wrong in a way that is very hard to discuss.
8. You don't even have to be right! You are actually allowed to ask for mercy. "Wow, I just totally lost track of time! But $24 is a lot of money for me right now with my impending surgery. Is there anything you can do?" I am waiving half of your fine here for sure, god, maybe even more. But first I'm checking your payment history, so be forewarned this will only work once or twice.
9. Don't let the clerk blow you off. "You don't have to pay it now." should be met with "Yes, but I don't think I should owe this money and would like to resolve it now."
10. Invoke the manager. This can help clear up logjams with people who don't like to get the manager or it can get you to a manager who will usually waive at least some fines because they don't easily have anyone to pass you off to and have to get rid of you somehow eventually. Be forewarned though, more than half the time there will be no manager around and the clerk can happily dispense with you by helpfully presenting you with a business card, or even just a name.
You are now fully equipped to contest your fine. Good luck. Fight the good fight.