October 9, 2015

Library Fine Anxiety

This post is sponsored by Cozi

Despite being married to a mega-library user, Bart has library anxiety.

He’s always worried about losing a book or forgetting to renew or return the things he has checked out.

When we lived in Texas and the check-out limit was 15 (15! How did I even survive?), I’d occasionally use his card to check a few extra things out and it caused him some amount of stress. 

Fortunately, over the last decade, I’ve proven myself trustworthy with a library card, and despite the fact that I usually have over between 50-100 books checked out at any given time, often from multiple library systems, I have paid very very few library fines over the years. I’d guess that, all told, I’ve spent less than $25 on library fines in the course of my life.

 Until we moved to Arizona.

We’ve been here less than 3 months, and I’ve racked up more than $30 in fines.

I wish I could blame it on super harsh fines here, but the main steep fine here is $2 per hold that isn’t picked up (when I picked up my 27 books on hold last week, I tried not to think about how expensive that would have been if I hadn’t made the library trip), and I haven’t paid any of those fees.

No, it’s just regular old library fines of 20 cents per item or $1 on movies per day that have killed me, mainly because I have neglected to do the incredibly arduous task of opening my computer and renewing my checkouts in my pajamas. It’s a rough life.

 (To be fair, I’d also like to blame the fact that there are NO convenient library branches to me – I never drive past them as a matter of course; I always have to make a special trip to pick up or drop anything off).

When I got the notice last week that I owed $24.60 on my card, I decided I might need a better system.

I’d sort of expected life to calm down once we moved to Arizona and were finally settled, but (surprise!) that has not been the case.

Almost immediately, we started homeschool and public school, which has taken up a considerable portion of our time. Bart’s gone much more with a full-time job than he ever was when he was an MBA student. And although Star is possibly the easiest baby on the face of the planet, juggling the needs of three small children is still a fair amount of work. I remember as a child thinking, “How can my parents forget about [some totally trivial detail]?” Now I totally understand.

There’s just a lot to keep track of when you have a family and a house and work schedules and church and school. And 125 library books.

I finally decided that what I needed to do was add a calendar reminder that would remind me every week to renew all my books, check what holds needed to be picked up, and what books needed to be returned.

I use a physical calendar for my blog, but for my real life, Bart and I need a calendar that will sync and that we can use from our phones.

Recently, I started using the Cozi Family Organizer, which is a free app that keeps all your calendars, to-do lists, reminders, and shopping lists in one place where the whole family can access them. I love that it works on all platforms, so you can use it on the computer, an iPhone, or an Android tablet or phone.

It’s also saved me that constant problem where I sit down to make the grocery list for the week and say to Bart, “Anything you need?” and he gives me a blank look, even though he’s mentioned multiple things we were out of or almost out of during the week. Or I’m not scrounging around for that rogue piece of paper where I wrote that five things I ABSOLUTELY NEEDED at the store but now can’t remember a single one of them.

I also love a shared to-do list, because often in the evenings, Bart and I will say “wasn’t there something we needed to do?” but we can’t remember what projects we were planning on plowing through (we sound like we have approximately five brain cells between the two of us – are we alone?).

All the core features are free on Cozi, although there is also a Gold version with a extra features like shared contacts and birthday lists (and the yearly cost is less than my library fines).

This whole thing has also given me way more empathy for the people who have library anxiety - I told Bart, “I suddenly understand why you’ve felt stressed about the library all these years.”

I’m crossing my fingers that my financial contributions to the Arizona library system are permanently over. And I’m putting another reminder in Cozi.

Cozi is the must-have app for families to manage the chaos of everyday life. With Cozi, it's easy to coordinate crazy schedules, track grocery lists, manage to do lists, store recipes, and keep everyone on the same page. Cozi is FREE, designed to be shared across family members, and offers real-time access from every platform (iPhone/iPad, Android phone/tablet, Windows phone/tablet, PC/Mac). Visit Cozi.com or search for Cozi in your favorite app store.


  1. Oh my gosh, we're twins. Bryan has library anxiety and I've always thought he was kind of ridiculous then we moved to Baltimore. Library fines are $1 a day, and the two libraries closest to us don't have outside drop boxes (grr), and I was used to the library being closed on Sunday but here they're open so that counts as a day against me also. In the past year I've spent 10 times more on library fines then I have the rest of my life. So frustrating!

  2. I feel your pain! I just returned three library books that were overdue and I owe around $15 - and they were only a week late! I had already renewed them once and we can't renew more than one time at this library. They must not realize I need unlimited renewals. And since this library is about 30 minutes from my home I just can't find time to get there when I have three kids in various sporting and after school activities and a full time job. I am not going to tell my husband about these fines or he will not be happy!

  3. $2 per missed hold?!? I would be in trouble for sure!!

  4. So glad to know I'm not the only one who borrows her husband's library card! A fine for missed holds? Cruel and unusual punishment!

  5. My library just switched to automatic renewals. If no-one's waiting on the holds list, you lift no fingers and suffer no fines. It's been joyous!

    1. Mine does this too. It's fabulous! What I don't love about this library (because I really love to evaluate libraries everywhere I live) is that there's only 1 renewal, automatic or non, even if no one else has a hold on the item.

      There is no fine for not picking up holds (hallelujah!) and no limit on holds (also great, because I lived somewhere with a 3-hold limit), but the holds are held behind the desk, so I feel a bit silly picking up my 15 Star Wars graphic novels that I was too lazy to just wait to get back in stock.

      The last library we lived near (which is the same library district as Janssen's, I think) would automatically REMOVE a fine for an item if you renewed it within a day or two of its previous due date. I also thought that was particularly generous.

  6. Oh Cozi. At one point I must of have set it up and then deleted the app or something, but I still get an e-mail once a week, on Thursday night, to remind me to take out my trash from like two houses ago. It's annoying weekly email to get, but not annoying enough to inspire me to figure out how to change it :) And also, I have a library fine budget, and I think of it like Netflix. It eases the pain.

  7. $2 for a missed hold pick up is brutal! I am pretty good about getting my holds, but wow. I am really, really good about library fines, but I do have one sitting there right now from Feb. The library was closed due to snow, so I (wrongly) assumed that the due date would shift to the next day. No. It's not really a big deal, but it's the principle of the thing. Makes me so mad!

  8. We could not function without Cozi! It is totally worth it to spend the extra money to have the notifications and extra reminders.

  9. Are you in the Phoenix Public Library System? Because they do automatic renewals. And they send nice email reminders. I'm not sure if the east valley is part of that system or not.

  10. Our library doesn't seem to have any fines. At least we've lived here almost 4 years now, and have never incurred any. The only problem is I lose the sense of urgency to return them on time. The library system also mails books to your house which is pretty awesome.

  11. Try not to feel bad about the large fine. I'm a school librarian and once racked up a $25 late-fee fine at my local public library. Talk about shame! The worst part was going in to pay it and having a former colleague handle the transaction! LOL.

  12. Ha, I still can't believe you get that many at once. I feel like we get a lot every time (when I compare to the other moms around me checking out with like 5 books), but it's like 20. Anyway, just last night I was laying in bed, and about 11:15 remembered that I had like 20 books due that day aaah! They have the best app though I just renew all of my books like that so easy (and hoped they were all renewable). I still cringe when I think about how you had to pay $1 to request a hold in Santa barbara, which was pretty much every book I ever wanted to read blah. And do they not send you an email notification when your due date is coming up?? They should do that.

  13. Oh my goodness.. Library fine anxiety is so real!! I need that app

  14. Check out libraryelf.com. If your library participates you can get text and/or email reminders that you have books due soon and it notifies you when your holds are ready for pickup! It has changed my life!

  15. My current strategy is to stayed logged in to my account on an open safari page on my phone. I see it and I just check to see if I need to renew anything. They do send me a warning e-mail but That does not seem to work for me right now. I do wish they had drive thru hold pick-up. I adore the drive thru drop off!

  16. I tend to rack up small library fines pretty often and should probably do something about it but in my mind - I don't really mind donating to my local library.

  17. So here's what I struggle with, losing books.

    We have a book basket, I try to keep track of them but we lose about one book per year. Gone. Forever.

    It makes me crazy.

  18. Have you heard of Libraryelf.com? I leaned on it hard while my kids were young and checking books out on their own cards (now we just all use mine), but it helps when I checking out from different libraries or have holds expiring. It sends me a weekly list of everything I have out on all the cards I care about and the due dates, and if I have something almost due it sends me a message about that. All this is customizable.

    But I also don't worry about small fines -- I figure paying $10 or so every year or two is the least I can do to support the library that saves me so much money on reading materials, printers, and sanity saving. And my library has branches all over so turning stuff in is not a problem (they have branches in the mall! They send library vans to the farmer's Market! KCLS is amazing.).

  19. Did you know the mesa public library now offers automatic renewals? It doesn't help with books on hold but man it's saved my life as far as not having to worry about returning books every week.

  20. Your library fines you for not picking up your Holds on time? Boy, would I be in trouble. Suddenly I have a much bigger appreciation for my library. HAHA

  21. The thing I miss most from the SLC libraries is the app. It wasn't perfect, but it was sure easier to manage renewals! I'm completely agree that not having the library in a path of frequent travel is also a killer. I try suuuuuuper hard to keep track of everything, but we lose books occasionally and it kills me every time 😁

  22. My husband is a librarian! At his former library, staff cards did not accrue fines. It was fantastic! All the books I desired with the ability to keep them almost as long as I wanted! Things are a bit different at his new library. :(

  23. My husband is a librarian! At his former library, staff cards did not accrue fines. It was fantastic! All the books I desired with the ability to keep them almost as long as I wanted! Things are a bit different at his new library. :(


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