Thursday, July 26, 2012

Are Debtor's Prisons Making a Comeback? (when free isn't free)

Friends ~ I am an anger crier. The angrier I am, the more tears fall. Tears are streaming down my face right now. Did you know that you could be prosecuted for theft if you forget to return, misplace, or damage a library book if you can't afford to pay for it?!?!?!? I don't know where to start.
When Ali reached sexual maturity, it was a few weeks before we could get him fixed. We didn't know until well afterwards, that he had "anointed" a bag of library books. The cheesy plastic bags they use now do very little if any to deter liquids. Well, when we packed up and returned library books, they said the smell ruined books in other bags as well. I had lingered over returning the ones we found while cleaning because we found a few more that were damaged. I was already in fear of the bill for the ones already returned. Many were around $30 PLUS a $5 processing fee per book, because they charge you labor also.
Today, I got a letter in the mail from the prosecutor's office notifying me that if I don't return and/or pay for all damaged items, and appear on August 8th at 10 am, I will be prosecuted for theft and pursued accordingly.
I have a lot of problems with this for several reasons.
1. One of our founding fathers' principles was to eliminate the concept of debtor's prisons. I assumed this meant, that debts would be pursued as civil, not criminal matters.
2. I can only assume that those "storm clouds" are smoke rising from Simon J Peabody's grave. If he left any descendants, I think they should sue to have his name disassociated with the current incarnation of the library. He has to be spinning in his grave so fast he's making storm clouds of smoke. If something sounds like thunder, I would assume it to be him groans of agony of the perversion of his dream of a library for every man. So much for his dream of a FREE library.
3. If I have to pay a processing fee of $5 per item, and I assume 4 or more items processed per hour, I am DEFINITELY in the WRONG profession. (And to think I thought prostitution paid well.) This is RIDICULOUS!!
4. When did we lose the "FREE" anyway? I know it was Peabody Free Library from inception through my childhood at least. Sorry, Simon, I mourn with you.
5. Public libraries were intended to be a resource for every man, not just the wealthy. When did this change? Does the Andrew Carnegie Foundation know this changed. I certainly hope the local library doesn't receive grants from an honorable association as this!
6. The last time I checked, there was no longer any free legal aid. How are we supposed to defend ourselves? I have seen this communities public defenders, and most are a joke, revenge of the rich on poor.
7. I was always one of the library's BIGGEST proponents. Reality is a BITCH, (pardon my profanity, but reality is painful)
Well, this is a painful situation in more ways than I care to count.
I WAS a HEAVY USER of THE library, at one time holding the inter-library loan (ILL) record of 82 in one month. I used the android overdrive app to read e-books, easier on my neuropathy than holding heavy books, especially late in the day. I used the internet and the computers before I had my own and access at home. I did my online work there when I still sold Avon.
I am still grieving the loss of access to the public library. I know they made a lot of people angry when they offered free access to those whose township budgeted tax dollars for their funding and had a fee for those whose didn't. I have always lived in a township that participated. My heart aches over the loss. I cannot afford to buy books. If I could, I wouldn't need a free library. I think our community needs to take a stand against the library's new policies. It is ironic that an agent protected by the constitution under the 1st amendment umbrella wants to strip its patrons of freedom from prosecution for imprisonment for debts. It is indeed a dark day for Columbia City, home of the oppressed poor, and the Pol Pot of libraries. — at Columbia City, IN.
PS ~  The bills total over $1,100 for me and about $1,00 for Julia. We live off less than my bill for an average month!


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