No judgment; just pay the extended use fee

August 25, 2010
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The next time your book is overdue at Indianapolis Marion County Public Library, you’ll be charged an “extended use fee” instead of being slapped with a fine.

The penalty is the same—25 cents a day for books and a dollar a day for video tapes, DVDs and CDs. Oops, sorry about that. Actually, it isn’t even a penalty. The system no longer judges your motive or even the veracity of your memory.

“It’s in keeping with the language that’s being used in libraries around the country,” explains library spokeswoman Maria Blake. “It goes from sounding a bit punitive to an indication that people had for whatever reason chosen to keep items beyond the due date.”

The library launched the new language this month to varied response. One patron charged the library with political correctness. Others are saying a fine should simply be called a fine, and still others don’t care.

Through July this year, the library has collected $954,743 in fines, err, fees, down slightly from the same stretch last year, Blake says, but she doesn’t know if the new language has changed behavior at other libraries.

Your turn: How do you like the change?

  • Really?
    I wonder how much hours/money was wasted in this decision. Grow up people; we donâ??t need to treat everyone like a special little snowflake. If an item isnâ??t returned by the due date, it is, in fact, LATE. Call it what it is and move on â?? I bet countless meeting were scheduled, many man hours were used to come up with this waste of time. No wonder the government is in so much debt; they waste time by deciding on these types of â??importantâ?? issues instead on focusing on the actual, real problems.
  • Extended Leave notices
    It is what it is, overdue fines! Why do you continue to spend high dollar salaries on meetings for such nonsense. Who can stop this administration from wasting our hard earned, hard to come by property taxes?
  • fines are going down
    "Extended Use Fees" on cds are only 25 cents per day. Yes, the language is stupid & confusing. Isn't renewing an item "extended use"? No fines, fees or whatever for that!
  • DVDs will be just $1/day, down from $2
    In addition to LibraryFan's correction about CDs (they are still only 25 cents/day), DVDs are dropping from $2/day to $1/day.
  • extended use vs. renewal
    I'm confused!!!
    • Lowered
      I'm not really sure why it's such a huge deal that the language has changed. People should be happy that the "extended use fee" for DVDs changed from $2/day to $1/day. Also, the fees for CDs are 25 cents per day, not a dollar.

      Does anyone do any real research before they slap these things onto the internet?
    • you will not be charged to renew
      "Extended use fee" refers to keeping items past their due dates. You will not be charged for renewing items as long as you renew them before they are due.
    • fees going down
      & oh yeah... fines on videotapes are going down from $2 to 25 cents a day...

      "Because other libraries are doing it" doesn't mean it's a good idea. To paraphrase Mom, if all the other libraries started jumping off a cliff, would they do it too?
      • clarification
        LibraryGuy, you're correct about the DVD fee dropping to $1. My misunderstanding. LibraryFan and Crystal, Maria says the CD fee is indeed $1 per day.
      • I love our library system
        The library in my neighborhood is awesome. It is one of the most diverse places that I visit nearly every week. The selections of books, mixed media, and opportunities for personal growth are worth every cent of my tax dollars. I am fine with paying even higher fines when I extend my user privlages beyond the return date. Worth every cent to keep the Library going.
      • CD fine correction
        The library has lots of CDs, both music and books-on-CD. Those will still be $.25 per day. They also have a small number of CD-ROMs, which have always had the same fines as DVDs, and which will go down to $1 per day.
      • It's still a fine, call it that!
        It's a fine.

        I don't even mind the value judgment, because if I've kept a book beyond the time it is lent to me, I've done something wrong and I should be punished. Look at it this way: a library is for the benefit of the community, not for the individuals in the community. (subtle difference) I know that it's important to the health of the system to keep materials circulating. If I harm the system by not returning my books on time, then I pay restitution in the form of cash. That makes me responsible to the entire community, whereas an "extended use fee" makes it seem as if I can buy my way into making my needs more important than those of everyone else.

        If we encourage a community approach to our shared resources, then a sense of personal responsibility goes along with it.
      • $1,000,000 in fees?
        Did I read that correctly? The library has collected almost a million dollars in fees from January through July? I have no problem with paying a fee if I don't return items in time. I'm just shocked that overdue fees would provide that much income to the library. Our libraries are great and they can certainly use all the operating income they can get.
      • fee correction
        Extended use fees are $1 for VHS tapes, not 25 cents.

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      1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

      2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

      3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

      4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

      5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.