I incurred my first Prince Edward Island library fines today.
In the olden days — before May 1, 2004 — Prince Edward Island didn’t charge fines for overdue library books. You received a polite notice in the mail, or by email, telling you your book was overdue. And you brought it back.
That was then, this is now. Today I had to shell out just under $5.00 for an overdue book and an overdue VHS tape.
As much as I appreciated the novelty of PEI being fine-free, I don’t have a huge problem with paying penance for keeping materials longer than I should, especially if there’s evidence that this system generally keeps materials more available to everyone.
And I can always take comfort from the notion that the money from my fines will be used by the library for Good.
Except it isn’t. I learned today that money from library fines flows into general revenue. It goes to pay for potholes and MRI machines and wind turbines. And, I suppose, in some small, small way, to buy books. A small, small, small way.
That’s a shame.