As the supervisor of Access Services, I am the one that gets to handle the complaints that come in from patrons - mostly concerning fines for late or lost materials. They always have a reason, and seem quite offended that we dare charge them at all. As the patron I describe below said, they "take it personally." Well, so do I.
A patron came in recently to agrue over a fine for an overdue laptop. I explained to him the reason for the fine and my decision not to waive the $10 charge. His library record was not blocked, but he was still very unhappy. I told him he could appeal to the Dean of the Library if he so desired, but that I didn't think he had grounds for a successful appeal. His parting words to me were - "It's ridiculous, I know I'm right. And I think you know it too!!" He then went on to write the university provost concerning his fine, in an effort to go "above the heads of those who run the library in order to get this matter resolved." He ranted and raved about how this small fine for his negligence in returning a laptop on time were "against the founding principals of democracy in America,and plainly ridiculous." He continues saying that "to be disregarded in such a way, and processed as "automatically guilty" makes [him] sick to [his] stomach."
Well you know what makes me sick? The constant stream of students in and out of my office who are unwilling to take even the slightest responsibility for their actions. "I didn't know they had to be back at a ccertain time." (No libraries just let you keep stuff as long as you want.) "No one told me when they were due back." (Staff do this, and you can check online, and we send you courtesy notices and three overdue notices before you are fined.) "The fine is too high." (You sign the agreement form for laptops before you borrow them which clearly states the fine.)
Seriously people it's not that hard. Turn the materials in or renew them to extend your checkout or pay the fine already - but please stop coming to me blaming everyone but yourself for your own choices. This is a university - time to act like a grown up.
Epilogue: Thankfully, the Dean of the Library and the Provost supported my decision in the above case. I truly appreciate such supportive backing.
"How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?"