In reply to Robert Deen’s letter: As a member of the Tillamook County Library Foundation Board I had no say in the decision to make the county library system fine- free. The Library Foundation does not run the libraries in any way; we simply support them by providing funds for such projects as the library’s book club kits, programs at the libraries, and lately, building a park beside the main library in Tillamook.
However, I heartily support going fine-free. The inability to pay fines may or may not be a race issue, but it is certainly one of economic situation. As an educator and small town resident living between two trailer parks, I know many children who never have 25 cents to pay for anything. These children are painfully aware of their situation; they don’t need us to nickel and dime them into shame.
Do children care that they owe the library money? Yes. One of my students cried all day on the days of the monthly Bookmobile visit. The Bookmobile attendant (long since retired) always asked her to bring back the book she’d borrowed last year. Or, he would offer, she could pay for it. Well, she could do neither. Her mother was gone, her father in jail, her grandmother overwhelmed, and the house - where the book probably was - locked up by the police. Worst case scenario, but true. There were other, more minor, embarrassments.
With the use of technology, keeping track of books is easier than in previous years for both the libraries and their patrons. I appreciate the e-mail reminders I get from the library when my books are almost due, and the notices telling me my on-hold books have arrived. I appreciate the books and other services our libraries offer and the friendly librarians. I love going to the South Tillamook County Branch Library in Pacific City (closest to my house) and seeing (before Covid) the group of students who hung out there after school almost every day because it is a warm and friendly place.
I’m pleased our library administrators are doing all they can to keep our libraries welcoming and friendly. Not charging fines for overdue books is an excellent step in this direction.
-Nancy Whitehead, Hebo