The forecast was correct today and it poured rain earlier and has gone from being bone dry in the garden to too wet to plant anything at the moment. So you get a post from me tonight. Aren’t you lucky? (I hope you know I’m teasing. I am not so self-centered that I believe I am a gift to the interwebs. Well ok, maybe a little)

A week ago my accumulated library overdue charges reached $10 and the library sent me an email to tell me that I would not be allowed to check out any more books until I paid my fines. Which was okay because I planned to pay them off when it got to $10 anyway. I have to admit though that it got me moving a little faster perhaps than I normally would because there was a book I requested in-transit to my library branch and I didn’t want anyone telling me I could not borrow it.

My library fines are back to zero. We’ll see how long that lasts. Given that it took me several years to reach $10, I feel fairly confident that I will not soon have to pay them off again.

With my fines paid in full, it was with much interest that I read a newspaper article, San Jose: Three people owe library more than $10,000 for overdue books. Yikes! San Jose is a city in the northern half California, a bit south of San Francisco. The big question, of course, is how the heck does a person manage to have $10,000 in library fines?

No one seems to know. The library, like mine, supposedly cuts off a patron from borrowing when fines reach $10. However, patrons are allowed to have as many as 100 books checked out at any given time. I suppose a person could borrow 100 books and go overdue on all of them and possibly not even return them and suddenly get a bill from the library for $10,000. But really? I mean, I borrow a lot of library books but I have never had more than 10 out at any given time. Borrowing 100 is just plain ridiculous.

Ok, I can imagine a few scenarios. The person might be a writer doing research for a book. Or possibly someone unaffiliated with a university doing research for some project. Nonetheless, collecting all those library books is going to take a few trips.

Now of course everyone in San Jose is talking about how to make people of all stripes pay their library fines. Apparently the total amount of unpaid library fines is $6.8 million. Imagine what the library could do with those millions! A few people are supporting publishing the names of the most egregious offenders. The library says that public shaming would cause too much emotional distress for people which, while true, I also find kind of funny.

The most important reason to not name names, however, is the fact that libraries are all about privacy. It’s all kinds of wrong for the public to know I owe $50 in overdue fines because I borrowed books on getting rid of toe fungus, curing baldness, and a cookbook with recipes for increasing my libido and that of my significant other. The library would not have to reveal what books I had borrowed but if I owed wads of dollars for overdue fines wouldn’t you be curious what books I borrowed that could be worth it?

Is there a moral to the story? Not really. But do be good library citizens and pay your fines before you get cut off from borrowing or have to take out a bank loan to pay them off.

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