Inequity at the library?

assorted books on shelf

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Well, here’s a head scratcher for you. It seems rather than address the root of the problem, we are going to give a bandaid to the symptom.

I recently read that more libraries are starting to eliminate late fees because it is inequitable.

Huh?

Seems to me this isn’t really about inequity so much as about values. If people value the service they take care to make sure that the materials are returned in a timely manner, thus keeping the service in place. When they don’t return them in a timely manner, they pay the nominal fine that is associated with it. To me, this kind of thing doesn’t make sense.

If they were to have taken the study that the article talks about, the one where it says a majority of the fines came from the poorest neighborhoods of the city, and gone a little farther with it, like into those neighborhoods, I bet they would find that most of those people all have cell phones and cable television and cars and other unnecessary luxuries. So, when it comes to priorities, I would venture an educated guess that it just wasn’t a priority for people to pay their fines.

Eliminating fines because of inequity would kind of be like law enforcement and communities saying “We’re no longer going to ticket people for speeding. The poor people can’t pay the fines anyway, so what’s the point?” Or how about we just give driver’s licenses to everyone at age 16 and no longer require them to take a driver’s training course (often $500 or more) or to even charge for a driver’s license (varies from state to state but starts at $30) at the Department of X, well because poor people can’t afford that kind of burden but they really need the car to get to a job and earn money.

It all comes down to values. This sort of things is a bandaid and really doesn’t address the issue, but is sounds good and because it sounds good we’re gonna do it.

Ah, what do I care, I guess. I have already argued we don’t need libraries anymore anyway. The technology exists to eliminate them altogether, so why not just do that?

 

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