It’s free

AT THE LIBRARY

Here is the burning question of the week. Why do people steal materials from the library? For Pete’s sake, you can check out books, magazines, and audio books FOR FREE. DVDs do have a small fee, but everything else can be borrowed for FREE.

When you register for a library card it’s FREE. You get two cards, one for your wallet and a key card. If you lose one you still have the other. If you misplace one, you still have the other. If you lose both, there is a $5 fee at the Mifflin County Library and a $1 fee at the Juniata County Library. Your library card allows you to check out materials and use the computers for FREE.

As long as you return what you borrowed on time, in the same condition as you checked them out, you will never pay anything. If no one is waiting for the materials you borrowed you can renew the books to avoid fines. We even interlibrary loan materials from other libraries for FREE. The only exception is if you don’t pick up the ILL, then Mifflin County Library charges $2 as this is a time-consuming, staff intensive service.

Are you getting the drift here? Can you feel my frustration? I’m stepping up on my soapbox now.

This past week we had a person try to steal a book from the Children’s Department. We discovered four Playaways were missing. These thefts total at least $225. We don’t have money to replace these materials and that means YOU have fewer titles to choose from when you visit the library. It really frosts my cookies that these people think they are entitled to steal, not just from the library, but from you, our customers.

I used to feel differently. I was opposed to video surveillance, security checkout gates/security guards at exit doors. I felt these anti-theft measures sent the message, “We don’t trust you.” 99.9 percent of library users are trustworthy and I really don’t like to create policy/procedure based on those who are the exception to the rule. I considered some loss as the cost of doing business. However, as of today, the library has at least 186 items that have not been returned by the due date, totaling almost $4,000. As funding remains stagnant, while costs increase, we’ve taken significant, and some consider harsh, measures to keep materials in our collection to be available to all customers.

Be forewarned! If you try to steal a book/magazine/playaway/audiobook and we catch you on video surveillance, we will call the police. If you check out materials and don’t return them, you are a thief. You stole library property and you will have to deal with the magistrate. If you lose or damage materials, you have to pay the replacement cost plus a processing fee. If you return books late, you have to pay the extended use fee, otherwise known as a fine.

I just don’t understand and again, I ask, who the heck steals stuff that is free? Oh, and by the way, thanks to the person who defecated on the floor, then smeared it around, in the men’s room Friday afternoon. The Library Board can now add “pooper scooper” to my job description. At least you didn’t steal books, I hope.

≤≤≤

Molly S. Kinney is the director at the Mifflin County Library. In preparation for this column she reread Markus Zusak’s “The Book Thief,” and cried as much this time as she did when she read it the first time.

“It’s a small story really, about, among other things:

* A girl * Some words * An accordionist * Some fanatical Germans * A Jewish fist fighter

* And quite a lot of [book] thievery.”

― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

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