Local and State gov departments are hurting hard because of cutbacks. According to the governor, February is the month when California will be completely spent without funds to operate. So, he has decided to close a few state departments twice a month to force furlough days onto government employees. That means, if an employee is earning $13.75 per hour/$1100 per pay check, his salary will be reduced to $990 per paycheck.
It is typical of government accountants to manipulate the books this way. Yes, the hourly pay rate may not have been affected, but what are people expected to do with themselves on a furlough day? Technically speaking, the work week for government employees is reduced to 76 hours per week, conveniently juggled so that those hours are taken out from a full day's work. This is supposed to compensate for the effects of the recession as much as charging people an extra 15¢ per day for their late library books.
One day, a lady walks into the library… and decides to complain about her fines because she doesn't believe she should pay them since she used the book drop to return her materials. The book drop is a secured container and/or book slot against the building of the library where peeps can deposit their stuff after hours. It's a system devised to convenience people who don't have time to stop by the library because they don't get out of work in time. Technically, patrons are instructed to use the book drop so that they aren't charged 25¢ per item each day their stuff is late, which can happen if the day they try to return their books is a day when they arrive after hours. Simple, right?
Well, this one lady explains to my boss that she was advised in another location that the book drop is not emptied out by library staff until after the library opens to the public, 10AM on some days, noon on other. Because somebody had done their job as soon as they clocked–in to work and emptied the return box first thing (9:00AM), the boss changes procedures and sets an edict that the return box shall NOT be emptied until after the library has opened to the public. That way, the people who thought they might get an extra day with their DVD avoid the hefty fine of $1.00 per day as long as they beat the clock and return stuff before 10AM or 12PM depending on the day. (DVD fines are $1.00 each)
This is my idea for the accountants who are quick to juggle their numbers to add an unofficial weekend to my work week that doesn't do much good for vacation perposes (Monday would've been nice!!). You may think all departments are abiding by the rules, but there are hundreds of dollars being lost per week when only a few locations allow the local couch potatoes to keep their materials past their loan period date.
I can almost hear their retort that customers would immediately compensate for the change and get off their laurels to return items on the date they are due; hence, the surplus of money I'm talking about would only come in a lump sum which would fade over time. I'm not disagreeing. It's like teaching a dog not to pee on the herb garden by spraying dog-be-gone solution, or using shock treatment to teach mice where the cheese is located. Once they learn that continuing their behavior is punishable by pain and discomfort, they change. It's true that I could care less how you managed to pull off free Internet access city wide, how the music collection has grown over the past few years, as well as the interesting DVDs. The whole idea that you don't interrogate your customers about how they copy their homework, build their MP3 collection, or dupe their flicks makes library accountants very, very cool.