A Widget, An Amnesty, and a Very Busy Month of May

Now that Game of Thrones is back on the air, it’s time for a new countdown.  The Manitoba Libraries Conference will happen in a month’s time, and it has me giddy enough to make it my new countdown widget.  I can’t attend all the conference sessions, but May 15th promises a long, exciting, and informative day.  It’s the keynote address from Michael Geist and the AGM for the Manitoba Association of Library Technicians.  (Note to Self:  Renew Membership.) I also get to see people from the local library community either seen on Facebook, or not seen until events like this conference.

Speaking of library people, Winnipeg Public Library deserves a hand for the success of the library amnesty in March.  People can take back their overdue material without getting charged a fine. The amnesty netted 3,200 overdue items, including a 1964 copy of A Farewell to Arms.  Add 680 library reactivated accounts and it’s win-win for everyone involved.  The amnesty couldn’t come at a better time for me personally.  Two months ago, I took back a few book thinking Lady Chatterley’s Lover returned with the batch.  The library did what I have done as well ie list the item as ‘claimed returned’.

Wrong.

While cleaning out some book bags, what should pop out by the novel itself.  What would happen if the amnesty was not on?  I pay the fine. Period.  I remembered on library clerk feeling surprised during one memorable pay out.  The items in question involved overdue kids’ books for a Children’s Lit class.  The Amount of the fine just over fifty bucks.  I nonchalantly pulled out my debit card, knowing I procrastinated on the e-mailed noticed sent a few days before the due date.  Apparently people with low fines, let’s day under ten dollars, would argue the point according to the clerk.

The face made during the last statement resembles the face I made hearing the story.  At the time it was money I could ill afford to lose, but  due to my own lack of timing I did.  Overdues are not fun and if one doesn’t want to pay the fine, then try not to keep them over the date due.  If possible renew it. Simple.  Alright sometimes I do forget and sometimes my record gets dinged for overdue books.  Luckily, those happened few and far between.

What excites me about the success of WPL’s amnesty is people had their accounts reactivated and can come back to the library.  We have e-books, books on Amazon or any online retailer, but one person’s inexpensive find still looks out of reach to those needing the necessities.   I agree food, shelter, and decent clothes are important.  My life without a library would look empty.  Libraries fed my curiosity and I will fight to make sure it remains for another person feeling the same way. It also means insuring funds to put helpful people behind the counter.

In my case it’s also a matter of space.  I like my new place, but can’t fill it with every book or DVD catching my fancy.  It means thinking twice and sometimes the second thought starts with a library loan.  (How do you think Richard Armitage ended up in my house…er….DVD shelf.)  Sometimes I just browse to get lost in the stacks.

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