Confessions of a public library reprobate

Do you know how many fines I've racked up at the New Westminster Public Library this year? I don't either. I'm sure I could find out, but it would be a number that would shame me to see. I love the library, but my book bag is bigger than my free time.

New Westminster Public Library. Photo: Dennis Sylvester Hurd.
New Westminster Public Library. Photo: Dennis Sylvester Hurd.

Do you know how many fines I’ve racked up at the New Westminster Public Library this year? I don’t either. I’m sure I could find out, but it would be a number that would shame me to see. I love the library, but my book bag is bigger than my free time. Every time I go, I stagger home laden with cookbooks, parenting books, pop psychology and science books, kids’ books and at least one decadent fiction indulgence. Now that I’m back to work full-time with two small kids at home, I have even less time to read. Or take books back to the library. I had to cut myself off library privileges after I started getting emailed reprimands sternly ordering me to return my library books or else.

So, the latest news from the library is bittersweet for me: there are no more 28-day loan periods. They are being consolidated to 21 days to make it easier for scatterbrained lenders like myself to manage return due dates. However the library will now allow two renewals instead of just one (as long as no one’s queued behind you to borrow the book). DVDs and a few other popular items will still have a shorter loan period of only 7 days.

The library has also announced a few other changes:

  • You can now have up to 30 books on hold (up from 20), but you will now be charged a $1 fine if your hold is not picked up
  • Fines for kids books will now be $0.05 per day for all users. Adults pay $0.30 per day.

I have to face the music and pay my astronomical fines before I can brave the seductive stacks of the New West library again, but it’s good to know I’ll have one extra renewal to buy enough time to get over to the drop box.

Briana Tomkinson

Briana Tomkinson is a Montreal-based writer and original founder of Tenth to the Fraser. She really likes to write letters by hand.

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10 comments

  1. I love the library, and even use the Vancouver Public Library with my library card – you can request books, etc, all on one card (but you have to stop into a branch in person). Inter-library-loan has a lot of red tape associated (old paper forms, etc).

    They also recently upgraded their library software to Bibliocommons (a Canadian company, out of Ontario), and while I had some hiccups initially, it's pretty smooth now, though I can't request/renew from work – a firewall issue, I guess. You can post comments and review books, and those comments and reviews are shared across all libraries using Bibliocommons. It's very cool.

    They will send you email reminders when a books is coming up over-due, and another when a hold is ready for pickup.

    One clarification – "Fines for kids books will now be $0.05 per day for all users. Adults pay $0.30 per day." Adult *books* are 30 cents per day. It used to be that if it was checked out on an adult card, it was 30 cents per day, but the total fine on a kids books would be capped at $1.

    I've also noticed that new books seem to be showing up quickly. I requested that book that is causing a huge debate online – Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (the original WSJ article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704… – and it arrived within a week…..

    1. Thanks for all the great information David! And the correction/clarification too. I love NWPL.Sent from my iPhone

  2. Briana, maybe it's time to try an e-reader. Books are so simple to download and there is no need to actually return them as they will simply drop off of your device after 21 days. I love the feel of a real book but there is no denying the convenience of being able to browse the collection and download at all hours. Cheryl G.

  3. I'm a card-carrying member of the "take out way more books than I possibly have time to read, and then forget to return them on time" club also. Glad to know I'm in good company!!

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