Reprinted from Herald Tribune:
In one episode of the classic TV comedy series “Seinfeld,” Jerry is contacted by the New York Public Library about a book he checked out 20 years before, as a high school student, and never returned.
Jerry explains the problem to his friend Kramer, who responds: “Do you know how much that comes to? That’s a nickel a day for 20 years. It’s going to be $50,000.”
“It doesn’t work that way,” says Jerry.
Kramer continues: “If it’s a dime a day, it could be $100,000.”
Actually, in the Sarasota County Public Library System, the individual fines have been worse than Kramer imagined: 25 cents a day for an overdue book, and $1 a day for late videos and DVDs. But the totals never climbed into the thousands: Once the borrower’s late fees reached $25, his or her account was suspended.
Still, the late-fee policy has been counterproductive. Last year, the Sarasota County library staff reported that it spent almost 10 percent of its time on tasks tied to fees and fines, at a cost of $1.3 million, to collect $152,870. Read more...