This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, December 18, 1991

December 18, 1991 - Food for Fines

We're closing in on the winter solstice. That may not mean much to you, but here at the LaRue household, this is a major astronomical event.

After the winter solstice (December 21), days start getting longer and better. So does my wife's general mood. And frankly, the sooner the sun rises, and the better my wife feels, the happier I am too. I also get out of bed earlier, or at least I'm more inclined to. This is just one of the many reasons we do not live in Alaska.

The winter season, of course, is known for other things. In both the Jewish and the Christian traditions, winter is a time of giving, forgiving, and remembrance.

In keeping with these seasonal sentiments, I'd like to suggest two stocking stuffers.

1) GET YOUR CHILD A LIBRARY CARD. There are many things you can give your child, but a library card is the gift that keeps on giving. From that first proud moment that your children print their names, they can know the thrill of an INTELLECTUAL credit transaction: the borrowing of knowledge, with the understanding that the physical item itself must be returned to its source. Trust me -- getting your child a library card is the soundest and cheapest investment in your child's future that you'll ever make.

2) GIVE FOOD FOR FINES. Let's be frank. Sometimes, when you check out a book, you don't get it back on precisely the day you were supposed to. Don't fret: You are not alone.

The Douglas Public Library District has some unusually understanding policies. If you bring your books back within a week of the due date, we don't charge you anything at all.

If you don't return a book until a week AFTER it was due, we charge you a whopping nickel a day: just thirty-five cents. The most we charge for most books is just $3.00. You see, we WANT you to read.

Nonetheless, despite our shockingly generous natures, it seems that on occasion people are reluctant to return their books, especially when they fear exorbitant fines.

So from now through the end of the year, any Douglas Public Library District branch will accept a single can of food for full payment of library fines. (Although you can certainly give us MORE than one can of food, and you don't HAVE to have any fines, either.)

In other words, we're offering you the opportunity to turn the sins of your past to the blessings of someone else's future.

Why are we doing this? There are two main reasons.

For one thing, we want to keep all of our books moving. Once a year, we run a list of all of our books that haven't circulated within 12 months. Sometimes, we buy books that nobody checks out. In that case, we pull them, and recycle them through booksales. But other times, a book got checked out a long time ago and never made it back. In that case, we probably need to replace it.

In short, although we want you to take our books home, we also want to encourage you to bring them back. If, for whatever reason (and we've heard some doozies), you COULDN'T get it back on time, we want to make it easy for you to 'fess up, to bring back your books without a stiff penalty. The bottom line is that it's cheaper for us to forgive a fine than to buy a new copy.

The second reason is that we'd like to do the rest of the community some good, too. The food you give will be distributed to Douglas County families that have special needs this year.

Please note that our Food for Fines program does NOT let you clear your record of any LOST materials. You can only settle up your fines -- charges for materials brought back late.

So happy season's greetings from the Douglas Public Library District. And let's get those books back, shall we?

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