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Opening Arguments

A fine plan

Neat idea:

The Greenwood Public Library announcesthat during this holiday season, canned foods will be accepted as payment for overdue book fines. From Nov. 22 until Dec. 13, the Library will accept one can of food for each dollar they owe (excluding those already sent to the professional collection agency).

Library fines have always seemed more about promoting civic virtue and creating responsible patrons than about raising money. This is a creative way to get double duty out of them.

Posted in: Hoosier lore


Tue, 11/11/2008 - 11:27am

I wonder if the small fines libraries usually charge might actually be worse than no fine at all. The only reason I raise the point is that I recently read Freakanomics, and the authors there cited a study involving a daycare where they started charging parents who picked their kids up late.

The rationale for charging extra was fairly straight forward - they didn't want to keep the kids past the normal time and the parents should pay extra for additional time watching the kids. This actually had the effect of more and later late pickup times by the parents.

Apparently the social inhibition against picking up the kids later than agreed was overridden to some extent by the financial exchange, and the rates were low enough that the parents didn't mind paying the rate charged and took advantage of it.

Leo Morris
Tue, 11/11/2008 - 12:04pm

Might be something to that. When I was a kid, I was the WORST book returner in Fort Wayne -- forever paying fines. But they were small enough that the pain they inflicted was less than the pain of getting off my lazy butt and getting the books in on time. Freakonomics also has the fascinating story of the bagel guy, who used the honor system of payment and discovered that payment rates were higher in smaller companies and ones in which morale is high. That probably tells us a lot about life today.