Yes, gas prices are through the roof. But have you checked out a library book lately? Or more to the point, have you held onto an overdue book for any period of time? It's damn expensive now, far more than when I was a kid. The Los Angeles public library system allows patrons to borrow books for an average of 3 weeks; when that period is over, tardy borrowers must cough up a quarter a day.
As everyone with a library card knows, this adds up in a hurry. For writers like myself, who rely on library books as a research tool, overdue books are part of the gig. It's almost a God-given right to hold on to books for prolonged periods of time without sanction; it's the unspoken code of conduct for authors and other researchers. Who can ever remember to renew?
But these fines, well, they're punitive. I turned in a book the other day and had to hand over 7 bucks. Back in the day, I think 7 dollars would cover a year's worth of late fines. This just ain't right! A library user's right to keep his books far beyond the due date is being stomped on by some bizarre code of responsibility and accountability. Stop the madness, LA public library, and let researchers take advantage of your largesse, without fear or fines.