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an old theme for a new year: the Antioch Public Library

January 6, 2010

Is it petty of me to keep writing about the library?

I don’t care.

More of their clip joint antics:

During December they published in various places some notices about late-December closures; as a result, due dates were to be extended till January 4.

Here is the notice from their website:

Due to County budget cuts and holidays, all Contra Costa County Library locations will be closed from Wednesday, December 23 through Sunday, December 27 and from Thursday, December 31 through Sunday, January 3.

Due dates for all items will be extended so that no materials will need to be returned between Saturday, December 19 and Monday, January 4. During the closure, all book drops will be closed.

The Contra Costa County Library website ( will remain open during the closures so that customers can continue to access online services such as downloadable audiobooks, eBooks, and electronic articles and will be able to place holds.

“The County Board of Supervisors approved six furlough days for 2009/10 for county employees in order to offset the budget shortfall”, said Anne Cain, County Librarian. “With two of these dates occurring in late December, the result is an extended closure during this timeframe.” To lessen the inconvenience for library customers, no books will be due and no fines will be imposed between December 19 and January 4.

All locations will reopen with regular hours on Monday, January 4. Due to the extended closure, longer periods of processing time are anticipated that may affect the length of time it takes to check items in and to fill holds. Consult the library locations and hours page for further information about your local community library.

The Contra Costa County Library serves residents countywide with 25 locations, 3 Library-a-Go-Go book dispensers, and online library services available 24/7 at Last year almost 4 million people visited the Contra Costa County community libraries and checked out over 6 million items.

Here is the text from the Contra Costa Times (the date was well before Christmas):

LIBRARY BRANCHES TO CLOSE:Contra Costa County library branches will be closed for nine days starting today and into the NewYear.

Holidays and furloughs resulting from budget cuts will close the library brances from today through Sunday and from Dec. 31 to Jan. 3.

Because book drops will be closed, the system has extended due dates so patrons won’t have to return borrowed items between Dec. 19 and Jan. 4. No fines will be imposed during those dates, either.

Online access to Contra Costa County Library’s Web site at will still work, however, so users can download audiobooks and eBooks and place holds.

Bold mine, of course. I realize a lot of the text isn’t relevant to the issue at hand, but I included everything, just in case you think that further on there was a line somewhere saying, “Oh, by the way… what we just said? Not true.”

I returned my books on January 4th. I had six books. When I checked my record, there were $9.50 worth of fines.

So I call the library. “I returned my books on the extended due date and now I have ALL THESE FINES.”

“Oh no!” she says. So she looks up my record and says, “Well yes, but YOUR books were due on December 28 and December 30.”


I tell her that I read the notice in more than one place and it said ALL due dates were being extended till January 4.

“Well,” she says, “I’m taking the fine off for you.”

This annoys me. I am not asking her to do me a favor, I am asking her to correct a mistake. So I reiterate the content of the notice.

I get my head bitten off. “I SAID I was taking the fines off for you, so it’s ok, but next time check your receipt.”

I beg your pardon. I am not some half-witted adolescent who cannot figure out when his library books are due. I watch the due dates obsessively online, and before that, I did it on the phone. Before that, I did it on a calendar.

I am also not too stupid to know a scam when I see one.

The correct response to my query about the fines would have been, “I’m so sorry, ma’m, I will fix that RIGHT AWAY.”

But I’ve noticed in the past few years that no apologies are ever offered. If they are fixing their own mistakes, the message is still, “I’m doing you a favor THIS TIME.”

Like when they charged me FOUR DOLLARS for a DVD which was returned on time but which they didn’t bother to check in until they MAILED IT BACK TO CONCORD.

That’s happened more than once, by the way.

I am not complaining about the fact that mistakes get made– of course they do! I’m complaining about the attitude.

I have a lot more to say (surprise!) but I think I’ll save it for another entry. But meanwhile I’m going to cram this full of keywords like Antioch Public Library, Contra Costa Public Library, extended due dates, fines, overdue books, library extortion ring and any others I can think of, which I’ll come back and add. In fact, I think I’ll go up and put some in the title– because for once, I hope someone actually finds this and reads it.

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