Sunday, September 24, 2017


The first good quality counterfeit bill I have ever seen recently showed up at my library. Or, I should probably correct that: The first good quality counterfeit bill I have ever seen that I knew was counterfeit recently showed up at my library. The paper was pretty good. The printing not too bad, though when compared directly to a genuine bill the colors were more faded. Bizarrely there was some Chinese printed on the bills in red. Apparently the writing says, in Chinese, something like "For training purposes only". The money is supposedly made for training Chinese bank tellers in foreign currency and has been appearing in some misguided attempts at circulating in the American economy.

But perhaps the oddest thing about it is that this bill, a ten, wasn't passed to us at the front desk. It was deposited in our printing honor boxes. At my library if you make a printout from a computer, or buy some books in the Friend's Bookstore, or make some copies over at our copier, we simply ask that you deposit whatever you owe us in our honor boxes.

If one wants to steal copies and printouts from us all one need do is not put any money in the box. This should be clear to even the most rudimentary level of thieves. But I guess it isn't rudimentary enough. I suppose we'll need yet another sign:

Please deposit 20¢ for each copy or print in the box below. If you are stealing prints and copies from us it is not necessary to deposit anything.


  1. I think you've just outlined an interesting undergraduate social-psych experiment. I assume you have a way to compare "number of prints made" to "amount of cash deposited." I bet the ratio of copies to cash would increase with the use of that sign. Of course, the big unknown is whether the honest people are overdoing it, putting in more than they owe. I, myself, have put in a dollar, let's say, when I owed 75 cents but didn't want to bother coming to the desk for change.

    So the experiment will need a control. Of course.

    Has anyone compared the prints made to the money deposited? I'm pretty sure we never did this where I worked, but I'd think people would want to know.

  2. Yes, yes, this would be an interesting test. The whole subject of our really quite large scale honor box system is fertile ground. As I understand it we fully pay our expenses with it, so yes, in a general sense that basic accounting has been done in the system. My guess is that some non payment is offset by over payment (like yours) and the rest by the cushion in the pricing (20 cent prints when our cost is surely far less). I even guess we turn a fair profit based on how our Automation manger is about it all. If we were merely squeaking by I think he'd panic.

  3. A situation perhaps a bit like this involves the Metro Transit buses. For a long time the fares have been .75, 1.75, and 2.75. I've frequently seen someone whose fare would be 1.75 put in 2.00, simply because he didn't have change. I wonder if they've calculated what they will lose by no longer having these over-payments.

    1. I enjoy the civility of what you pick up on. See, I would have responded to this "Yes, the automation services manager really is an ass." Instead you analogized to bus fares, and quite perceptively! I bet you're right! Or only maybe you are right because the standard fare is now being raised to $2 from 1.75, as of a week from today! So I guess they figure a quarter in the hand is worth a lot more than peoples' lack of change.

      Of course I just think about the Met Council and State Government "What a bunch of assholes."


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