• The art of storytelling is alive and well, which is something you soon learn when you work at a public library. I’m not talking about the stories in the books. I’m talking about the excuses patrons dream up to weasel out of paying library fines. Although most library patrons are honest, upstanding people, there are some who’ll say anything to get out of paying the money they owe us. When I recently asked my fellow librarians for a few of the best fine avoidance lines patrons have handed them over the years, here‘s what they came up with:

    The books were lost in a landslide. It was an act of nature so I shouldn’t have to pay.

    The TSA confiscated my DVDs.

    I threw them all away because another librarian told me that was okay.

    I’ve been way too busy to renew my books.

    I panicked when a bee flew in my car, so I grabbed the book and threw it at the bee and it went out the window. On the freeway. So I couldn’t stop.

    A literary thug broke into my car and took them all.

    I had no idea that I had to return them!

    I loaned them to my therapist and she didn’t give them back. This is really giving me trust issues.

    I was in the middle of writing my thesis when my boyfriend broke up with me,  stole all my library books and deleted my research.

    These are Christian books! You can’t fine people for reading Christian books!

    They were destroyed in a prison riot.

    I really hated the book, so I shouldn’t have to pay.

    My poodle ate it. Then he upchucked on a priceless Oriental rug. I should be charging YOU.

    It was a book about witchcraft and it was burned, but  I shouldn’t be charged for it because Satan set it on fire.

    I lost it in a tornado.

    My twin stole my driver’s license, got a library card in my name, checked out a bunch of stuff, then skipped town.

    I couldn’t return the books on time because I was undergoing surgery. What kind of surgery? Breast augmentation! Does that matter?

    My exterminator took them.

    The book came back water damaged because I got caught in a downpour. That’s an Act of God, right? So I shouldn’t have to pay.

    I checked those books out so that they wouldn’t be a danger to kids and I refuse to pay the fines because I’m doing the community a service by keeping the Devil at bay.

    I had my baby on the side of the interstate and the books were ruined by the … fluid. (Library staff actually Googled this news story — she was telling the truth! Overdue fines were waived but she did have to pay to replace the books.)

    If you’re the kind of library patron who hands us a line instead of paying your fine, here’s a suggestion. Why not put pen to paper and channel all the creative energy you’ve been using to lie to us into something more productive? Maybe you can write a best seller! Then you’d easily be able to afford to pay your fines.

    Until then, we librarians will continue to roll our eyes as you roll out your latest lame excuse. Roz Warren

    english bulldog wearing eyeglasses sleeping over a good novel

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    Article by: Roz Warren

    Roz Warren (www.Rosalindwarren.com) writes for the Funny Times, the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Christian Science Monitor, the Jewish Forward, Reader’s Digest and the Huffington Post. And she’s been on both the Today Show and Morning Edition. Roz is the author of OUR BODIES, OUR SHELVES: A COLLECTION OF LIBRARY HUMOR, which collects her most popular essays about library work.

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    1. kelly.siderio@gmail.com' Kelly says:

      people are crazy!

    2. Some of those are so crazy I almost believe them. Too funny. I had to replace a library book when my son who was 7 at the time took it to school and another kid stole it. I was so mad at the kid who stole it I pressured his mom until she reimbursed me. I never would have dreamed of making the library wait the 18 months it took me to get the money from her.
      How much are late fees these days?

      1. rozspam@aol.com' Roz Warren says:

        Late fees vary from library to library. At the library where I work, it’s 30 cents a day for a book and $3.00 a day for a DVD, to a limit of $10.00.

    3. carolann@sassytownhouseliving.com' Carolann says:

      Wow those are some amazing excuses especially the baby delivery one! I think I would have given her a free pass on that one lol. It’s great you keep notes on these excuses. I bet you can make a book out of them someday!

    4. suzanne@boomeresque.com' Suzanne Fluhr says:

      These are pretty amazing excuses although I do think it was a bit harsh to charge the lady for the books she ruined by giving birth on them. Library overdue fines are the only fines that make me feel virtuous and I always say, “Keep the change.”

    5. Hbludman@gmail.com' Helene Cohen Bludman says:

      Haha! Gotta love these crazy excuses. You’ve got to give people credit for creativity at least!

    6. cathy.sikorski@gmail.com' Cathy Sikorski says:

      Oh you hilarious librarians….or is it your hilarious customers. The best part is these patrons are serious, not trying to be funny at all. And think of all the money they could be making in stand-up? Great Post, Roz!

    7. ccassara@aol.com' CAROL CASSARA says:

      Way too busy is such a great millenial excuse! Just sayin’.