Sunday, March 4, 2018
On the end of library fines
It is within my power to forever protect any library patron from any future overdue fees by simply setting their card to a "Persons with Disabilities" status. But the definition of this status in our policy is unclear. I am inclined not to see it as a status related to physical disabilities, but rather one for cognitive issues. From there I find a Catch 22 enters into it. I am pretty shy about asserting officially, on my own judgement, that some random library patron has mental disabilities. I feel that would end up being about half of all new patrons and some of them might find it insulting. And yet any patron who were to request this special status I would invariably find too sensible to give that status to. So if they don't ask, I don't give it because they didn't ask, but if they ask I don't give it because they asked.
Nevertheless there is a bit of a sweet spot with patrons that I feel I can safely give that status to knowing they'll never properly understand it. It's pretty extreme. These are patrons I regularly deal with who never notice that somehow they never ever receive late charges, no matter what they do and how negligent they are, and yet they still worry, sometimes quite deeply, about getting their books back on time. Well, I say books, but it tends to be CDs and DVDs.
On the other hand I'm probably over-thinking the whole thing. Probably every one of our patrons would be delighted to be awarded this "Persons with Disabilities" status if it meant fine exemption. They would happily chalk it up to their "bum knee" disability, or their "poor head for dates" disability, and gleefully never pay a fine again.
And to be honest, more and more, that all seems perfectly fair to me.