Imagine that your relatives are visiting you and they come to the Merrimack Library to check their email and are told that they'll have to pay $5.00 to use the computer. Imagine that only the Rochester Public Library owns the book you want and we tell you there's a $5.00 up-front charge, whether or not the book actually gets here. Imagine late fines of 25 cents a day for books.
I've just been to the Dickinson Memorial Library, the Orange City branch of the Volusia County (FL) Library System, and this is exactly what I encountered. So much for printing out my boarding pass. Not worth $5.00. When I introduced myself to the Branch Librarian, Becky Curry, she explained the simple reason for the high fees: county budget cuts. All kinds of fees were hiked to keep taxes low. Vacant staff positions can't be filled. Interlibrary loan within the county remains free, but the $5.00 out-of-county fee has pretty much ended ILL from outside the system. That would be like GMILCS giving free ILL, but all borrowing outside GMILCS would carry a charge. At the 400+ ILLs we do from outside GMILCS each month, that would be pretty expensive for our patrons.
I understand what Ms. Curry is saying, I really do. Every year, libraries everywhere wrestle with providing the best service with the allotted tax dollars, and sometimes the librarians have to make some tough decisions. I can imagine that the citizens of Volusia County aren't too happy with the fee hikes, but at least service hours have remained the same. I guess we're pretty lucky that we're holding our own in NH. I'd certainly hate to have to tell people what I was told this morning. And I'd hate for you to have to hear it.