An adult patron walks into the library looking like she just got sent to the principal’s office.
Patron: I am so sorry this is so late. (Puts library book in return bin.)
Me: How late is it?
Patron: Two days.
Me: Two days? Don’t worry about it. That’s nothing. You shouldn’t lose sleep over past due library books.
Patron: (Suddenly looking much relieved.) Uh, thanks. How much is the fine?
Me: We don’t charge overdue fines.
Patron: (Looking shocked, as if I had just told her the county prosecutor had recently made it a policy to stop prosecuting murder cases because it was just such a big hassle and all.) You don’t charge overdue fines?
Me: Libraries that charge fines don’t get their books back any quicker than libraries that do. Besides, by not charging fines we gain a lot of good PR. We only bother about such things if someone loses or damages a book.
Patron: What do you do if someone damages a book?
Me: We release the hounds.
I’m a novelist, poet, and short story writer living in the Desert Southwest.
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