Rockford Public Library’s amnesty too lenient with taxpayer’s money

An inexcusable 62% of the library’s  57,554 cardholders owe the library for overdue returns or lost items. That’s far too many people to consider amnesty – 35,684, who owe fines and/or have not returned books and other devices!

To put this embarrassment into its proper perspective, tardy or dropout library patrons don’t owe the library a thing. They owe the taxpayers who fund the library. It’s our money that’s being abused and our books and devices that haven’t been returned, not the city’s.

While the library is in the process of “wiping the slate clean, and giving everybody a fresh start,” according to library administration, mind telling taxpayers whose going to pay the $474,489.01 in fines, which could be used to replace the “lost” books and other items.

What is the total cost to taxpayers for the CDs, DVDs and E-book readers that have not been returned, for which library personnel feel entitled to grant amnesty with our money? The library’s amnesty plan is too lenient.

Many government bureaucracies, especially appointed ones, consider these events to be their prerogative to regulate, without as much as a “by your leave” from the taxpayers to maintain the library’s status quo through this extravagant amnesty proposal.

This excerpt is beyond the pale:

 “We would like to get as many people as possible using our library,” Executive
Director Frank Novak said. “We felt as though many people were unable to use our
materials, facilities, and services due to old fines, fees and overdue materials.

Library administration apparently wants the same people who have a proven track record of not returning overdue materials and not paying past-due fines to be given another chance, another opportunity to repeat their previous behavior at taxpayer’s expense.

It would seem that this planned amnesty, without the prerequisite system in place to take into account “patron irresponsibility,” would exacerbate the problem for future library operations, as it has in the past.

The Library needs a better collection agency to make sure these so-called “patrons” return our books, DVDs, with the other materials and pay their fines before returning to our library with no consequences for their actions.

Not allowing patrons to check out new items by blocking their cards seems like a good idea at first glance, to reduce patron irresponsibility, but amnesty was tried in 2005 and obviously didn’t work, with the 62% of the current library cardholders delinquent in fine payments and returns.

The library will simply see a repeat of past irresponsibility, if the current process is reinstituted, along with the five chances to win prizes – new Kindle e-book readers for those who pick up their new cards this month, including those given amnesty, I suspect.

More consideration is being given to those who have abused their library privileges, than any thought to those who are footing the bill. With the unconditional amnesty, and the prizes to be awarded to the prodigal patrons, it doesn’t look like there are any losers at the Rockford Public Library, except for the taxpayers.