Teaching Individual Responsibility

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    This week, the NYC Library System proudly announced that it was permanently discontinuing “late fines” for books not returned within the 30 day borrowing limit. They claimed that their action was part of a broader social equity and justice initiative to remove an unfair burden on access to library resources by low-income groups and marginalized populations. I would strongly differ. Growing up in NYC, I recall many visits to the library and the simple act of assuring timely return of library books was one of those responsibilities kids learned and adhered to. Those were the rules and we agreed to follow them in return for the privilege of gaining access to library resources.
    Its a minor and relatively unimportant decision that will cost the library system only about $3 million annually in “lost fines” but seems to be just another step in the erosion of social norms and individual responsibility. (Note that the cost of “lost books” will still be charged).


    You’re very right. It’s a pattern of progressive erosion of personal responsibility at the expense of society in general. Some people want government care cradle-to-grave. They expect others to pay for everything and are raising a society of incompetent buffoons who feel entitled to other people’s resources.


    I couldn’t agree more!
    Library fees can be easily avoided by acting responsibly.
    Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be a popular value nowadays.


    The left increasingly teaches that hard work and responsibility are white values and are a part of how alleged white supremacy oppresses other groups. In accepting racists’ accusations that those groups are less responsible etc, they are further demeaning the same groups that they purport to defend

    Amil Zola

    My town hasn’t charged library fees/penalties in about 10 years. The annual report shows that there are less than $1k in lost books per year. With so many of their services offered online and free pickup and delivery of books, online account activity (i.e. extending check out time) it’s easy to stay on top of things. Right now I’m waiting for the cd release of John Coltrane live in Seattle, A Love Supreme. When the library gets the recording in I’ll receive an electronic file of the music. I will have access to that file for 10 days. After that the file gets turned off for me. Or I choose to be on a longer waitlist for the CD, and have it delivered to my door (with that weeks delivery of books) and have it picked up when my return books are fetched.

    Sarah S

    I find it ironic and somewhat hilarious that you are bringing up the topic of individual responsibility. You’re the number one proponent of the party that believes in blaming everyone and everything else for lack of education, poverty, crime etc. The Biden administration and its adherents never place responsibility on those individuals who choose to have multiple children out of wedlock, with no father in the home, no work ethic, murder rates that rival major wars, public schools that provide no actual schooling, etc. predominantly in cities that have been run into the ground by members of the Democrat party that you admire so much. It’s all because of racism….how can you expect a non-white person to be responsible to return a library book on time? After all, time constraints are a construct of white supremacy. Uh oh, Gadol, looks like you need to go back to re-education school so you will no longer think that anyone is responsible for anything, unless you’re white of course. Then you’re responsible for enslavement and living off the backs of black and brown people.


    Sarah: Thanks for your rant but there are many Dems who don’t buy into the “dependency” line you are espousing that is reflected by an increasingly vocal “progressive” minority in the party. We are seeing it now with the demands for trillions of dollars in “free stuff” as a condition of passing a badly needed traditional infrastructure bill. Sadly, the rational “middle” of both parties have been marginalized and the crazies at both ends of the political spectrum have taken over the asylum and institutionalized the moderates. ‘
    Otherwise, have a great evening (or morning) depending on your time zone.


    Whats the goal of the fines? To get people to return books. It should not be seen as a way to fill budget gaps. Libraries are not money making enterprises.
    Racking up accumalating fines is a punitive measure that affects poor people more. Poor and disadvantaged people need to use the library more because they dont have acess to books/literacy/ resources at home. Senior citizins who use the library may not be able to get to the library to drop off books in time esp if theres bad weather.

    The new method is smart. After a book is overdue for a month, the patron will be charged the cost to replace the book. They wont be able to take out new books until they pay to replace the book or bring it back. Thats a much fairer method then arbitrary daily accumalative fines liolom vaed and still teaches responsibility.


    Given that most youngsters are not aware that there are books out there, anything encouraging reading is OK by me. In my area, they rescinding fines in the honor of COVID, my kids ordered a bunch of them, and even read some… The fines are now back and we are searching for those books now…

    By the way, this was an early Netflix approach v. Blockbuster – instead of annoying fees, you could keep a fixed number of DVDs. So, maybe libraries can do the same – let you keep N books and exchange for new ones.

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