Thursday, August 29, 2019

Library statistics on fine collection and necessary budgets

As the concept of going fine free sweeps through the world of twin cities libraries like an angry wind, many key issues come flying through the back halls and shabby conference rooms of my library. A key one was addressed in a question posed by a library board member.

"Why," She asked the library director "Can't we get rid of library fines?"

"Because we need the money." The library director answered.

Fair enough. But then the board member had an inspiration. Or maybe she was planning it all along. "How much" She asked "Staff time would we save if staff no longer had to spend time collecting fines?"

This is the question that came down the line to us, the circulation workers, down here. No, no, way down here! Yes, us, working in the ol' boiler rooms of the library system, stoking the ol' engines. Hi.

We all had quite a chat about this. Ten minutes an hour was thrown out as a figure, which on reflection seemed seriously inflated. Five? For one person or two? I weighed in at this point with an impassioned "What we do here at the front desk of the library cannot be quantified by mere numbers!" This didn't add a lot to the conversation.

We didn't settle on anything exactly. Except that we need a chess clock! See, you're at the front desk of the library and someone gives you their card. You hit the chess clock GO button, then say "You have 30 cents in fines on your card." They say "I'll get it later." Then you slam the STOP button. Then you repeat as applicable.

This is the only way to get an accurate picture of how much time we spend on fines currently.

Plus, as the supply procurer for the library, it would be fun to order a chess clock. I've really grown to enjoy ordering all kinds of junk for the library.

Which, unfortunately, takes a lot of money.

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