Vancouver Public Library offers amnesty for overdue books

Don't be ashamed. Don't be afraid. VPL will welcome you back.

The Vancouver Public Library wants you (and its books) back.

Amnesty for your overdue books

That library book has sat on your dresser for so long, it's become a fixture. Part of the scenery. You want to return it, but when you pick it up, you can't bear the thought of parting with an old friend. That, and you'll probably owe like ten bucks in fines. Oh, wait, you have two overdue books...

You're in luck. The Vancouver Public Library feels your pain, and is willing to clear the slate. The VPL has launched a campaign to welcome back those of us with long-overdue books.

October 21-27 is Welcome Back Week at the Vancouver Public Library. Even though you've had that copy of "50 Shades of Grey" for several months (don't lie), the VPL just wants it back. More importantly, says VPL Marketing Manager Stephen Barrington, the library wants you back. Libraries are still community gathering spots even in the age of e-books, and communities thrive on people.

Libraries also thrive on books. Will Welcome Back Week bring both components of the library community back into the fold? VPL certainly hopes so, and has worked double-time to spread the word about its amnesty program and make you feel safe about bringing back that copy of "The Bourne Sanction".

In discussing library members scared off by mounting fines, Barrington said, "We'll do everything we can to clear their library card."

To that end, you'll notice that the campaign uses images of happy, smiling book-readers, and not the grim-faced Polaroid mugshots found behind the counter at your local convenience store.

“A library is the community hub – a place for everyone to connect, learn and enjoy, regardless of circumstance and financial means,” said VPL chief librarian Sandra Singh in a media release. “This month is Canadian Library Month, so what a wonderful time to welcome back patrons in this way.”

Welcome Back Week includes books (in print and on tape), CDs, DVDs, VHS and audio cassettes, language learning kits, and magazines. Yeah, audio cassettes. You've had that Bangles tape for so long, you don't even have a machine to play it on anymore.

Welcome Back Week even includes vinyl records, you superstar DJ, you.

You have to let it go

This is all about ending a vicious cycle. When cling to that book for too long, you accumulate fines. The fines then grow to monstrous proportions. Then you're scared to return that book to the library: said Barrington, "The longer something is overdue, the more reluctant they may be to come back.” At this point, nobody else gets to read that book.

Worse, you are no longer part of the library community.

How long is 'long overdue'?

Welcome Back Week focuses on library materials that are six weeks or more overdue. Barrington said that some VPL books have been in the wind for months or even years. The most extreme, he said, is a book that's 30 years overdue. It's out there. Somewhere.

In other words, there's a book that went overdue before the people hanging out in Yaletown tonight were even born.

What happens if you lost that library book?

If you lost your overdue library book, the VPL still wants you back. Go into your branch, give 'em the Bambi eyes. Barrington said, "It’s about coming back, having a discussion with us, telling us what happened. We really want to find a way to welcome our patrons back to the library.”

Those with overdue books may also finally overcome their fear of librarians.

Better act quickly

This is a one-time deal. If you don't return that copy of "A Game of Thrones" during Welcome Back Week, then you'll have to carry on living like a hunted animal, ever in fear of fines. Always checking over your shoulder for the Library Cop.

That's no way to go through life.

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