The ugly truth about homeschoolers (stolen from Amy)
Earlier today, I blogged about the kindness shown by my husband in light of my own gigantic fine at the library. Lisa asked me to ‘fess up and divulge all the ugly details, something I was considering anyways. Really, I was was wanting to know if other moms have a problem similar to Amy’s and mine, or if we’re alone in our irresponsible library usage.
I’ve tried to apply a tourniquet to my fine hemorrhage, but the deeper problem, apparently, is still unfixed. I guess it boils down to irresponsibility.
I signed up for Library Elf, which is a fine service that notifies me, for free, when my books are coming due. Then, I go online and renew them, if I know we won’t be able to get to the library to refresh our books. That’s great, but if I have managed to amass a fine $5 or greater, my library system won’t let me renew online. When we typically max out our card at 35 items, and books’ fines are $0.10/day, and DVDs’ fines are $1.00/day, it’s easy to get to $5.00 in a hurry. AND, our library system currently has no option to pay bills online; you have to go in person. So, many times my Library Elf notices pop into my inbox to tell me, “More books are late. And, since you can’t get to the library for at least a couple of days… and your fine is already at $7.00… you know, ha ha ha ha ha, this notice simply serves to inform you that your fine is just growing.”
OR, since I have to pay for my card, since I live outside the city in which our favored library resides, if my card expires before the length of time for which the items will be renewed (one week for DVDs, three weeks for books), I can’t renew online.
Or, if we’ve already checked an item out three times, we can’t renew them again. (Though the librarian let me know that they’ve removed the limits, and now anyone can check items out indefinitely. That’ll help a little.)
Add these restrictions to my basic irresponsibility to the Thanksgiving holidays, and I had a $26 fine. So… I went to the library last Friday with $40 cash to pay my fine, plus renew my card (I live in a city different than my preferred library, so I pay $10/quarter for the card). Imagine my shock when the librarian said, “Oh my. Your fine is…
A HUNDRED DOLLARS??????
How did that happen???
I burst into tears.
I am not normally a big cry-er, and I loathe lady-in-distress tears, especially those intended to manipulate others. But this time, I absolutely couldn’t help it.
- it turns out that anyone with a fine greater than $25.00 is immediately turned over to collections and assessed a $30 fee. I didn’t know that. As bad as my struggle is with fines, at least it has never (to my memory) gotten over $25, before this.
- Plus, we had two books that were listed as lost, because we had had them for so long. I had no idea where the books were. Those books had huge fines, plus “lost” fees.
- Normally, my library has a cap of a $5 per item overdue fine. However, for reasons still unclear to me, a number of items were assessed this fee twice. So, a bunch of items were $10. I appealed to the library for this portion of it, to no avail. They wouldn’t bend.
- Plus the “normal” overdues, twenty cents here, forty cents there, times at least 35.
All of that totaled my unimaginable library fine. ALL of the fines and fees had accrued over the course of one month, December.
I took the kids back out to the truck, cried, nursed the baby, cried some more… the kids were silent as I fed Fiala. They so lack perception about what is appropriate, when. But, thankfully, they could tell that this was serious. Except for Audrey. She’s two, so I extended her some grace. 🙂
I got home, cried some more.
Part of my woe was from the fact that this is, to my husband’s consternation, an ongoing problem. I probably rack up $10-15 in fines per quarter. Added to that is that money is SO tight, and we have been doing everything we can possibly think of to economize. My husband balked at paying $2.50 for a pair of baby shoes that were on clearance. What would he think of $104 in fines????? I thought I’d calm down a little, think of how to approach him on it… The library put me as “payment status” which meant I had six weeks in which to pay, and in they wouldn’t assess any more fines. I thought of ways I could earn the remaining $64.15 (after paying the $40 I already had) in that time. Then, he called. I started crying. I couldn’t help it. I was crying so hard, he couldn’t understand what I was saying.
And, what did he do? Get angry? Say, “How could you???” I’m sure I would have. He didn’t. He just said that we’d pay the fine, return the books (which we did find, after turning the house upside down, emptying all our very many bookcases), and just not go back to the library for a while.
I certainly do not want to repeat that.
I’m not sure what I’m going to do, because Ethan will finish his Sonlight Core in about two weeks, and afterwards, I was going to figure out some unit study — using library books — that he could do until we can afford to buy the new Core. 😦