Overdues, Fines and the PA

The library currently has 2,633 items checked out.  The value of these items is just shy of $350,000.  At least 480 of these items are never coming back, they are valued at just a hair over $7,700. 

Today (June 23, 2020), items that were checked out on June 2nd and had a due date of June 16th were notified by an automated phone call.  Standard check out is for 2 weeks, notice that there is an extra week of forgiveness added in.  So if you are a week late, you are still cool, no notifications and no fines, yep, you get a grace period.  When you get the first notification of being overdue, your items are actually a week overdue.  At 14 days overdue a postcard is sent, 21 days a first letter and 28 days a last letter.  At this point a person that checked out an item on June 2nd would still have that item on July 14th.  Often times that person might have renewed the items twice before, which would put them having them out from May 5th through July 14th

You might have noticed that I mentioned a “last” letter, well, that is not entirely true.  We have one final letter and it is the scary one.  One final letter reminds patrons of the following Missouri State Statute: 570.210. 

Library theft, guilty of stealing. —

(3)  Borrows library materials from any library pursuant to an agreement or procedure established by the library which requires the return of such library material and fails to return the library material to the library; or

(4)  Knowingly writes on, injures, defaces, tears, cuts, mutilates, or destroys a book, document, or other library material belonging to, on loan to, or otherwise in the custody of a library;

shall be deemed to have appropriated said item with the intent to deprive the library of said item without its consent and shall be guilty of the offense of stealing under section 570.030.

Noticed that I said “reminds”.  Contrary to “popular” belief the library does NOT send patrons to jail for overdue items.  Actually we never did, if someone ever went to jail it was for warrants served for failure to appear.  

In 2016 we stopped prosecuting patrons for items not returned to the library.  We also stopped charging fines; only letter fees are ever collected.  Any child that has items not returned are forgiven when they are able to get a library card on their own; age 16.  Any adult that has items not returned is forgiven after a ten-year time period. 

Last week I mentioned that we mailed out 84 postcards.  I made special postcards for these people, letting them know that we are open, but that if they still did not feel comfortable getting out that they could call us.  This week, 62 of those people received their first letters.  We are still continuing to quarantine returned items, so you might have received a letter even though you returned your items.  No worries, we are removing those letter charges. 

You might have guessed that this bookworm was “inspired”.  Even though our state is open, COVID 19 and the anxiety that it has brought and continues to share, is making everyone tense.  Be assured that any upset feelings you are experiencing should not be on the account of the library, hopefully this bookworm clarifies why. 

“Last” letters will go out on June 30th to those people that have already received a phone call, a post card and a first letter.  Hopefully the numbers will continue to drop; 84 to 62, 62 to ?  The goal is just to get our materials back so that other patrons can enjoy them.  I honestly feel like we are being patient with our patrons, we hope that they can show us the same courtesy.   

Upcoming Events: Onsite delivery of SRP activities on Thursday, Gravois Access 4-4:30, Stover 5:00-5:30. 7/1 Story Time will be with a special guest! and teen fan fiction writing prompt, Wednesday at 10:00am.  7/3 Adult Writing Prompt at 10am. THE LIBRARY WILL BE CLOSED 7/3 AND 7/4.  7/6 NEW Story Walk’s at the Stover and Versailles City Park.  7/7 at 6:30pm Adult Book Club on Zoom.