End of Library Stamps Isn't the End of the World: It's Just a New Way to Fine Me

By John Kelly
Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I have a confession to make in light of my column yesterday about the demise of "date due" stamps at area libraries: Even with the old ink stamp system, I still rack up embarrassing fines. I'll probably do no worse with the new system of paper receipts. In fact, I'm ready to grudgingly admit I might do better, thanks to the many helpful suggestions readers sent in.

John Lane pointed out: "You don't have to do any of the things you talk about to find your due date. All you have to do is read your e-mail!"

True enough. The library will send a helpful e-mail letting me know that I have books that are soon due. And everyone loves wading through their e-mail, right?

Richard Bresnick of Columbia wrote: "I suspect that you wrote today's column with tongue planted firmly in cheek. However, just in case, a simple solution is to keep the receipt with the book and use it as a bookmark. Or are the receipts worthy of being refrigerator art?"

Not necessarily, but even if they were, there might be a problem, as Bethesda's Emily Gersh has noticed: "We just re-did our kitchen and have a beautiful stainless steel fridge which magnets do not stick to. Fortunately I am addicted to the computer so I will see my reminders online, but it's not the same as seeing the due date on the back of the book and knowing how long I have to finish it."

William Brenner of Coral Gables, Fla., said he sympathized with those who have trouble keeping track of library book due dates. He has a solution: "I write the due date on small sticky notes and place one on the front cover of each book. The books are stacked with the earliest due date on top, and after each is read, it is placed on a 'go back' stack."

A lot of people are obviously a lot more organized than I.

Faith from St. Mary's, for example. She travels for a living and always has three to four books and three to four audiobooks checked out. "I take the little receipts, fold them, put them under the oversized paperclip on my checkbook and cross them off as I return them. I keep an Excel workbook which shows all of the books which I have read/have in hand/written by the author and mark them when they are read or due."

An Excel workbook? Impressive.

"There's a simple solution to your problem," wrote Elizabeth D. Dyson. "Do you keep a calendar on which all important dates and 'to do' items are written down? If so, just glance at your magnet, immediately write down the due date in your calendar when you get home, and put a note two to three days before that that the due date looms up on X date."

Lois Lacey of Ijamsville is glad libraries are getting rid of those "idiotic labels that they plaster all over the books and movies to tell us when these items are due. Know how often I have had to peel away said label to read what a book, and especially a movie, is about?"

I'm betting pretty often.

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