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This morning I received a $2 payment in the the interlibrary delivery. A patron at library B paid it at her library (library B) for an item belonging to my library, that she signed out here. Great. I like to get money. However, said patron actually owes us $42. I looked at her account to see that she currently has NO bills. $12 of these bills had been paid at library B and $30 had been paid at library C. I called library C first, and they investigated. Called me back to tell me that a clerk had made a mistake and tallied the $30 with library C's money and they will send us the $30.

I could not reach library B by phone, so I emailed and asked if I could expect to see the $10 in the mail. The answer I received was kind of hilarious, in a way that makes me want to smack myself (or someone else) in the face. The director said that the $10 was not paid at library B and she doesn't know where it was paid. Perhaps I can email someone at the library system and get them to investigate? Furthermore, she has "difficulty" figuring out where fines are supposed to go to, because she didn't know where the items were signed out from.

All you have to do is click on the amount owed, and a window pops up. It tells you who owns the item, and where it was checked out. How did she figure out who to send the $2 if not this way? Even after the bill is paid, you can click on the amount paid and it will tell you at which library it was paid. You can see this information it multiple screens.

To make matters worse, she didn't even have to send me the $2, because our circulation system standards are that if a fine is under $5, the library that collects it can keep it. So I dug a little deeper and saw that the fine wasn't even PAID at library B it was FORGIVEN. This is a no-no. You should never forgive another library's fines. We should have least been given the courtesy of a phone call. "Hey, Patron is here and has the following sob story. Can we forgive the fine?" To which I would have replied no. Because this patron knows one of my clerks, and had been texting my clerk asking her to erase all her fines.

We had a directors meeting about two weeks before this patron's fine is forgiven, during which we made it part of our circulation standards among our automated libraries that one library must not relieve another's fine. Do you want to know who made the motion? THE DIRECTOR AT WHOSE LIBRARY THE $10 fine was forgiven. Jeez Louise. Every single fine this patron has "paid" at library B has actually been forgiven. Which is fine, I guess, if it's your item - but not if it is someone else's!!!!!

I'm sending the director screen shots of the pages that show the fine was forgiven at her library and asking her for the $10. I'm going to ask our person at the library system services office to see who was logged into Sirsi and did the actual forgiving too.

Am I over-reacting?


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 3rd, 2014 10:13 pm (UTC)
Nope. Today $10, tomorrow $50. And who knows what might have happened prior to this. I'm all for holding people accountable, especially when they're supposed to be serving the public.

(Holding the public accountable is, of course, another story.)
Jul. 4th, 2014 04:00 am (UTC)
Nope, not overreacting. And if my former boss hadn't retired rather than inflicting herself on another library system, I'd think you had been talking with her. She did not have the slightest clue how the ILS worked - it was an accomplishment for her to check a book out! She would have no more idea how to look up which library owned an item that had fines on it than my cat has how to fly a plane.

That was also about how much awareness she had of policies & procedures, especially when it inconvenienced her or did not impact her directly.

I'd give good odds that the hard work of figuring out what fine moneys needed to be sent where is "someone else's job" and she just signed the check when it was handed to her. Your best bet is to figure out who does the actual work (in our library, it was either our assistant director or our head of circulation) and talk to them about it. If it wasn't the head of circ signing off on it, they probably won't be too happy about someone forgiving ANY fines, much less another library's!
Jul. 4th, 2014 05:20 pm (UTC)
Not overreacting, and seconding the suggestion to find out who does the actual work. I know in my library, half of the people who are ostensibly "in charge" don't know how to do fuck all, and it's the people who work under them that keep things from going to hell in a handbasket.
Jul. 4th, 2014 09:45 am (UTC)
Nope, nope, nope! You are taking appropriate action!

Also, just "nope" to the whole situation. Ugh. NOPE.
Jul. 4th, 2014 12:26 pm (UTC)
Totally not overreacting. I wish more of my coworkers were this responsible.
Jul. 4th, 2014 05:04 pm (UTC)
Definitely not overreacting. Something is Not On there, and it needs to be sorted out.
Jul. 4th, 2014 09:38 pm (UTC)
I don't think you're overreacting at all - it is your library's money, not theirs. Hopefully Library B will send the rest of the money to you. Sounds like their are people at Library B and Library C that aren't sure what they are doing.
Jul. 4th, 2014 10:24 pm (UTC)
I think this patron knows someone at Library B as well as at your library. Sounds like there should be a note on the patron record "forgive no fines."
Jul. 4th, 2014 10:55 pm (UTC)
Not overreacting at all. This is what all those policies, procedures, and agreements are for, right?
That's the argument we're having right now with Library H. One of their patrons lost FIVE of our DVDs, and they just waived all the fees. I was not amused.
Jul. 5th, 2014 10:39 pm (UTC)
You're definitely not overreacting.

I can't help it; this story reminds me of this:

Jul. 8th, 2014 01:09 pm (UTC)
so glad I wasn't the only one who thought that.
Jul. 6th, 2014 07:09 pm (UTC)
First off, I agree with everyone here. That said, here's my cynical bite of reality for you: in my opinion you probably won't make any sort of headway against the Director of Library B. Why? Director is Director. They don't have to follow any rules or admit any mistakes. Some do, some don't, but they aren't required to do so.

My suggestion is when you add the note to the patron's record, word it something like this (maybe you can think of a nicer, more professional wording): "No fines forgiven for this patron. Any library forgiving fines for items not owned by said library must cover the costs for these fines to the owning library."

I don't know if you want to add "checks should be made out to the owning library" or if that's too snarky. Do I think you would 'win' this case? Probably not. It depends on how much you want to push this. Maybe just discussing this issue in your meetings will help end this. Check with your own Director to see how much backing you will get on this issue.

Edited at 2014-07-06 07:09 pm (UTC)
Jul. 8th, 2014 07:19 pm (UTC)
You aren't overreacting, you are doing a great job :)
Jul. 8th, 2014 08:48 pm (UTC)
Libraryminx - Better Off Dead is EXACTLY what I was thinking about when I came up with my (somewhat awkwardly worded) subject for this post!

Thank you all for your comments! Here's an update. I found out from our system services person who at Library B forgave the fine. Before I could email the director at Library B, she sent me an apologetic email. She told me that she contacted the patron and told her that she can no longer ask Library B to forgive fines owed to other libraries. Director also said that she got lessons from system services on how to figure to which library money is owed. She said she took a closer look at the patron's account and realized that this patron returns most of her materials late. Director is going to speak to the clerk who forgave the fine and instruct her not to forgive any fines to anyone. She is also going to send me the $10.

Autumnfire1414 - I should have added a note to the patron's account as soon as she texted my clerk asking if there was anything she could "do" about the fines. I will be more vigilant in future.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

Authority Record

the fuck
The Society for Librarians* Who Say "Motherfucker"
For all of those times when the gatekeepers of the world's knowledge are called upon, in their professional capacity, to use the word "motherfucker." Or at least to seriously consider it.

*Open to librarians; library associates, specialists, technicians, and paraprofessionals of all kinds; library school students; library aides and volunteers; and all of those who love libraries, or even just love a particular librarian. Welcome.

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