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Ever notice that people approach fines differently. Over the past semester I had to collect fines I noticed a few different responses. Some respond by embarrassment “Oh, my god I can’t believe I had a fine, I’m so sorry.” Then others respond in anger “the library has enough money this is a racket!” Then there are others who respond in disbelief, “I know I brought it back, I just know it, I could not possibly have forgotten so can you get rid of it?” Then there are those who understand the system and just pay the fine “I know I should have returned it on time and here is the money.” The last groups are the ones who understand the responsibility of bringing back the books on time and if they forget they pay it. If you are reading this, we in the library world love you! But do you know who we love the most? People who bring the things back on time! We don’t want to charge fines, but if we do not, then things would never get returned and then patrons could not use our resources. I have always thought about the concept of changing the names of fines to late fees like video rentals, but library fines are engrained into people’s minds. Maybe the library staff should walk around campus with shirts that say (on the front) Bring It… (on the back) Back to the Library. In a perfect world no books would be late and there would be no fines, but obviously it is not. Students would not like it if we took something of theirs and did not return it. Everything has consequences, if they did not return something of their buddy’s, that student would hound his friend constantly. With academia at least their grades and transcripts would be held. We have an agreement that needs to be upheld. May be we should have a billboard that says, “Return or Get Burned.”

I know people will disagree but I love the end of the semester . ESR is what I like to call the end of the semester rush, which is a drug. ESR sends faculty, staff, librarians, and especially students into a tizzy twice a year. Sure there is a lot of stress but I love the hustle and bustle. ESR sends you into a different frame of mind when helping people. For some it is a frustrating time because the students and faculty are at their last rope, but I think the most important thing for librarian and library staff to remember is too not take their ranting too personally. Maybe it is because I just finished college and grad school and was one of those undergrad students who left everything until the last minute.  (I did not stop until the end of my sophomore year when I got extensions for every class and needed to do 15 papers in 2 weeks. That was the point where I learned the fact that it is easier to do stuff on time.) At that point you would get testy with the Mother Teresa just because you come to the realization that if you don’t work at a suicidal pace then you might not pass and then you have to retake everything and may lose your scholarship, get kicked out of college, disappoint your family, never get a steady job…. and etc. ESR is a drug, it can send you to that ultimate low where you want to smash something, but on the other hand can send you to an almost euphoric high. ESR can provide a great opportunity for librarians to show what we are really made of. There have been times where I have helped a student at the 12th hour and that student comes back the next semester and gets help throughout the semester and not just at the tail end. (Now not this does not always happen and sometimes the student gets extremely mad and blames everything in earshot and sight, but we live for the successes, don’t we?) The effects of ESR can be long lasting, and my only hope for each semester is that the students I helped will finish and start clean next semester.

It is the end of the semester and everyone seems to be learning new things. The faculty and students learn how soon the semester comes to a close and learns how to deal with the winter and winter driving.  The library staff learns ways to get the books back. Lately I have been learning different ways to attract student to the library. the listservs have been buzzing with ideas from cool libraries with neat ways to get the students in there. One library did laser tag (incidentally I told my college age brother who does not like his college library this idea and he would go in the library if there was laser tag) dance parties, video games, etc. In my library we used to do a little something at the beginning of the fall and we did not do that this year and the attendance dropped.  Lately I have been reading a good amount on how to best serve users. Something has been hitting me as I peruse the cornucopia of articles on technology and social networking, etc. The basis for all of these services is human interaction. If a patron comes in and is not treated well then all of the technological gizmos in the world will have zero impact. Jenica Rogers Urbanek wrote a great post about users and how willing we are to help them if they just ask. It is one thing to hear about what the library can do for you and it is another thing to experience the power of a helpful librarian or staff member. For example, I helped the student search the catalog. Then the student was perusing the stacks and could not find anything she was looking for so she came to me for assistance. In a matter of seconds I located the book she was searching for. She then looked at me with wide eyes and said how did you do that? (Like I had just pulled a rabbit from a hat) I then explained to her the basics of the Dewey Decimal System, but what I really wanted to do was tell her I’m a librarian and I have superpowers. A week later a bunch of students came in the library and said are you the one who can help us find stuff, so and so said you are really good. The point is if we take the opportunities to show the users we are here for them, then they will be more apt to use our services. We need to show them we can fly! (to their assistance anyway)