Message to the community from Luren E. Dickinson:
There is a famous episode of the old “Seinfeld” sitcom series entitled, “The Library.” Mr. Bookman is the main character who goes after people who have overdue material from the New York Public Library. Aired 21 years ago, it concerns a book that was originally due in 1971!
“Special Investigations Officer” Bookman has little patience and no sense of humor when it comes to discussing the missing item that Jerry had checked out years before. Eventually, the fine is paid, but not without a lecture:
“Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Why's this guy making such a big stink about old library books? Let me give you a hint, junior. Maybe we can live without libraries, people like you and me. Maybe. Sure, we're too old to change the world. What about that kid, sitting down, opening a book right now in a branch of the local library. . .? Doesn’t he deserve better?”
Libraries do get stereotyped because of portrayals like that. It seems that almost everyone remembers “a Librarian” from their younger years, who was overly strict when it came to enforcing quiet or collecting overdue fines! In the end, however, people realize the benefit of libraries! And we hope that our customer services skills are much better today.
Yes, the Shaker Library still collects fines, but we try to make it as painless as possible. The daily rate for most overdue material is just fifteen cents a day, which is about half, inflation wise, the five cents we charged in 1970, and children’s material is fine free. In addition, we cap fines at $5.00 per item so you will not be hit with a huge bill for something that was due in 1971!
Soon we will be making it easier than ever to pay fines and fees by implementing a computerized payment system. From anywhere you access the Internet, you will be able to pay using a credit card or PayPal by logging into your personal account through our online catalog. If you have multiple fines or fees, you will be able to choose which ones to pay, though you will have to pay a specific fine or fee in full as no partial payments will be allowed for individual amounts. Your payment record will remain available to you for one year.
By early 2013, we are planning to make the checkout of library material self-serve. Customers will be able to pick up items that they have on hold from an open shelf, without having to wait in line. Likewise, they will then be able to take those items and check them out quickly and confidentially at one of the new self-checkout stations. A friendly staff member will be available to provide assistance as needed.
Another long awaited improvement will be the mobile app for our catalog that will debut in early 2013. You will be able to search for what you want from the convenience of your smartphone, place holds, renew items, pay fines, and more!
Don’t forget that we have helpful and professional employees at both the Main Library and Bertram Woods Branch ready to serve as informational guides or just to say hello. Finally, we always have regular programs for children, teens, and adults where you can meet with others in the community to learn about different topics or participate in activities. To find out more, check out our website at www.shakerlibrary.org or pick up our Youth and Adult program flyers next time you are in the Library.
Luren E. Dickinson, Director