George Washington is said to have checked out “The Law of Nations” from the New York Society Library in 1789 and never returned it. In 2010, after a librarian quipped that they would not actively pursue fines, the Mount Vernon estate returned the book. That was nice of them to waive the fine for a 221-year overdue book.
The East Bonner County Library District is pretty nice too. In honor of Library Lovers Month, we are waiving fines next week for overdue materials at both of our branches and the Bookmobile. Feb. 11-18 is Fine Forgiveness Week; one of five events during the year when the library lets you off the hook for your overdue books, movies, CDs, and other materials. No need to disguise yourself or visit the dropbox after dark. We will not judge, nor ask any questions.
Fine Forgiveness Week does not apply to damaged or lost items. You might be thinking, “How can someone return a lost item?” Sometimes a patron loses an item or neglects to return it for such a long time that we have to replace it. When it is finally returned, we might ask that the borrower reimburse us the cost of replacing it (a replacement fee).
While we are on the subject, I’d like to clear up some myths surrounding overdue fines and lost items.
An overdue fine is 50 cents. It is 50 cents for an overdue collection of Smokey Robinson’s “Greatest Hits”. It is 50 cents for an overdue Curious George book.
• Overdue fines are not compounded over time. If you have a book for 221 years, you still pay 50 cents, unless we have to replace it. Then you owe the replacement fee — not a compounded overdue fine.
• Your library card- holder privileges may be restricted if you have overdue items. Our super friendly librarians may have to tell you that you cannot check out items or use the internet computers if you have overdue materials. Believe me, it hurts them more than it hurts you.
• If you can’t make it to the branch library where you checked your items out, you have options. Call us and we will renew them if they qualify for renewal (unless another patron has a hold reserved). You can also drop them off at the Bookmobile and we will make sure they are checked back in for you.
• Library staff will never shake their finger at you or shame you for a lapse in due-date etiquette.
We know that George Washington never intended to keep that book for so long. I can’t help but wonder, though, if he would have returned it if there were Fine Forgiveness Weeks back then.
Upcoming at the library:
• Saturday, Feb. 10 — American Sign Language Class. Canceled this week. Class will resume next week. For more information, contact Susan Schaller, firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Saturday, Feb. 10 — American Heritage Wildlife Series, 2 p.m. at the Clark Fork Branch Library, 601 Main. February’s topic: “Water Birds.” Learn to identify birds who live on or near our waterways. For more information, call 208-266-1321.
• Sunday, Feb. 11- Sunday, Feb. 18 — Fine Forgiveness Week. Return your overdue materials – no questions asked. Does not apply to lost or damaged items.
• Monday, Feb. 12 — Teen Center Game, 3:30 p.m. at the Sandpoint Teen Center, 104 S. Division. Teen librarian Morgan Gariepy hosts collaborative gaming for teens. For more information, call Morgan at 208-263-6930, ext. 1245, or via email at email@example.com.
• Tuesday, Feb. 13 — ASL practice, 10 a.m. at the Sandpoint branch. ASL instructor Judy May will help you refine your sign language skills. Intended for ongoing students. Signing practice will be based on Saturdays’ ASL lesson, but good practice, even if you miss Saturday. For more information, contact Judy May at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Tuesday, Feb. 13 — Mother Goose, 10:15 a.m. at Creations on the Cedar St. Bridge. Stories and singing for babies and toddlers 0-3 yrs and caregivers. Info: email@example.com.
• Tuesday, Feb. 13 — Preschool Story Time, 11 a.m., at Creations. Stories and crafts for kids ages 2-5 years. Info: firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Tuesday, Feb. 13 — Robotics with Lego Mindstorm. For information, call the Clark Fork branch library, 208-266-1321.
• Tuesday, Feb. 13 — Beginning Chess for Kids, 3:30 p.m., at Homeschool Academy, 1333 Superior St., second floor. For more information, contact Suzanne Davis, 208-263-6930, ext. 1211, or email@example.com.
• Wednesday, Feb. 14 — Clark Fork Stories & More. Canceled. Call 208-266-1321 for information.
• Wednesday, Feb. 14 — Make It at the Library. 2 p.m. Kids make a variety of age appropriate projects at the Clark Fork Branch.
• Saturday, Feb. 17 — American Sign Language Class, 11:30 a.m. For more information, contact Susan Schaller, firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Winter Reading Program — It’s time for the library’s Winter Reading Program, a reading challenge for kids. Pick up a reading bingo log and track your reading and read-to-me hours to qualify for prizes. For more information, call Suzanne Davis, 208-263-6930, ext. 1211 or email@example.com.
• StoryWalk — A partnership of The Library, Kaniksu Land Trust, city of Dover, and city of Ponderay. Pages from a children’s book are posted along a trail for a fun, family experience. At Dover City Park, read “The Mitten,” by Jan Brett. At McNearney Park in Ponderay (behind Panhandle Animal Shelter), enjoy “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” by Richard Smith and Felix Bernard. For more information, visit ebonnerlibrary.org or call Suzanne Davis, Children’s Services librarian, 208-263-6930, ext. 1211, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read, connect, and get outside at a StoryWalk.
Marcy Timblin is in charge of public relations, marketing and community development for the East Bonner County Library District. She can be reached at 208-263-6930, ext. 1204.