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September 27, 2007

THE HARRISON PUBLIC LIBRARY

Death Is Not an Excuse

(Thanks to DavCat14 and Jeff Meyerson and sjhaller)

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50 cents and this makes news? Pay it for cryin' out loud!

Hat trick?

Ket not acceptable excuse: My mother couldn't return it on time - she was dead.''

She was pining for the fjords.

death is never an excuse.

makes mental note to tell kids to bury all the overdue library books with me.

My question is why didn't she just put the book in the return bin and walk away. Why bother to go up to the counter and tell them you're returning the book late? They wouldn't have charged the fee until the dead woman tried to check out another book.

You can have my book when you pry it from my cold, dead - oh, carry on then.

That's really offensive. I can't believe the woman paid the fine. I would've stuffed the book up the guy's nostrils.

"My question is why didn't she just put the book in the return bin and walk away. Why bother to go up to the counter and tell them you're returning the book late? They wouldn't have charged the fee until the dead woman tried to check out another book."

Because she was trying to be nice and explain why the book was late?

On the positive side, the story is being picked up by library instructors as exactly what to _never_ do.

She should have left a note saying - "If you'd like to collect the fine...be my guest. Good luck!" Give the address of the cemetery.

Siouxie, that reminded me of the Customer service call to a credit card company telling them that the card holder was dead, the bill was paid off but it arrived at the payment center late due to a holiday. This company was used to making money on late fees so they didn't even care when they were informed of the death. He ultimatly gave the C.S. rep the address of the cemetary and the plot location. Told them to send the collections agent there as well.

So, wouldn't the dead woman's estate still be responsible for her debts?

I'd have just given him the name and address for her estate's executor and told him to file a claim.

Juggler, back in my single days my company kept dinging me for spousal coverage on my health insurance and I couldn't get them to stop. I finally submitted a vet bill for my cat. That managed to get their attention.

Hmmm, I smell attention whore. How else would the paper have gotten ahold of the story unless she called it in? And why would she pose with those sad little puppy eyes holding a picture of her parents?

I'm sure the clerk could have been nicer about the whole thing, but come on, 50 cents? Pay the fine and get on with your life lady. Complain to your friends and family, not the media. What if she had discovered dozens of books stockpiled away for years, resulting in a more substantial fine? Is the library just supposed to wipe that away because the person who checked them out is dead? Can you stop paying a off a bank loan just because the person dies?

*oozes off his soapbox*

So don't pay it. You returned the book. Don't pay the fine? Are they going to come after your dead mother?

/Stop making a stink just to get in the paper and maybe sue somebody, which is my guess as to what this is all about.

Good for the Library! These dead people are getting away with way too much these days...

I'm guessing there probably wasn't anybody with the authority to cancel the fine within earshot. I'm a librarian: if somebody had called and gotten the reference desk to ask about a fine charged to a deceased patron, I'd have transferred the call to either to the head of circulation, or the branch manager if I was at a branch. Odds are that unless the circulation manager was actually on the desk at the time, the person who charged the fine was just a clerk, and even further down the ranks. Should he have offered to ask the manager? Yes. But if the appology and the offer to return the fifty cents came later, that tells me the person with the right to do that didn't know at the time.

With me (yeah, I'm one of those people at the library), the attitude and the size of the fine - and whether the deceased had a good chance to have returned it - make a difference. With this lady, if her attitude had been a little less "I'm doing this out of the goodness of my heart - I should be able to keep it" I would've said I was sorry that her mom hadn't gotten to finish the book and waived the fine. But I'd maybe keep an eye out for the card to go through again. Because then it wouldn't be on the front page, would it?

To rip off James Lileks, I'd like to point out that recent advances in nanotechnology have allowed scientists to construct a sub-microscopic working violin only a couple of microns in length. I played one of these violins while I read this woman's "heart-breaking" story.


The funny thing is that the book was already overdue when the mother died. If the clerk was really cold and unsympathetic, yeah, that's not good. But really ... making stink over something like this means this woman has WAY too much time on her hands and way too large a sense of entitlement.

ceeg, in NY at least most branches no longer have bins you can drop the books into, so you'd have to find one that does. I'd just have left it on the counter and walked.

"Schaper said her treatment at the hands of the library was particularly painful because her late father, Armin Schaper, was chairman of a committee that raised funds for construction and renovation work at the library during the 1960s."

She thinks that she's entitled to special treatment just because her father raised some money 40 years ago? Pay the fine and shut up, or just leave the book on the counter and shut up. Either way, just shut up.

Librarian here. The circulation clerk should have been nicer, but I do understand the reticent behavior-- one of my colleagues waived fines for a patron until she counted six dead grandmas. Since the woman was unsatisfied with the circ. worker sticking to protocol, she could have taken it to the branch manager or director. The library system's board. Running straight to the paper is simply demanding attention. I agree with BillyJoe: Shut up.

That's what I was figuring, Jemmy. How many times has the clerk heard a sob story to get out of paying a fine?

(Double checking to make sure the attention ho wasn't MY mother...WHEW!)

Better watch or they'll get Bookman after ya!

Well, let me tell you something, funny boy. Y'know that little stamp, the one that says "New York Public Library"? Well that may not mean anything to you, but that means a lot to me. One whole hell of a lot. Sure, go ahead, laugh if you want to. I've seen your type before: Flashy, making the scene, flaunting convention. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. What's this guy making such a big stink about old library books? Well, let me give you a hint, junior. Maybe we can live without libraries, people like you and me. Maybe. Sure, we're too old to change the world, but what about that kid, sitting down, opening a book, right now, in a branch at the local library and finding drawings of pee-pees and wee-wees on the Cat in the Hat and the Five Chinese Brothers? Doesn't HE deserve better? Look. If you think this is about overdue fines and missing books, you'd better think again. This is about that kid's right to read a book without getting his mind warped! Or: maybe that turns you on, Seinfeld; maybe that's how y'get your kicks. You and your good-time buddies. Well I got a flash for ya, joy-boy: Party time is over. Y'got seven days, Seinfeld. That is one week!

fivver married a cat?

I'm with Bismuth and Moon. "I am shocked -- SHOCKED -- I tell you, to the core! Watch me get into the local newspaper and raise a great big stink over this 50-cent fine!"

I understand that she's offended on principle, but I'm sure library workers have heard every excuse under the sun (or under the ground, as it were), including "My ____ died and I'm returning this for her."

It's 50 cents. Life goes on. I would just chalk it up to the general wariness and un-trustfulness in our modern society, and pay the 4 bits.

If one thinks the librarian was tough, try dealing with the IRS or Probate Court when somebody dies. The finacial experts tell people to make sure they have a will and all accounts have designate benificiaries. This is really great advice.

shame on AP for allowing a cranky old woman to blow this out of proportion. they say people act more child-like the older they get... case in point.

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