ONLY a mild flutter in the dovecotes was felt by the discovery, made public in the Justce of the Peace, one, that fines for the detention of library books were unauthorised by Law and, two, that readers who declined to pay them could not be refused access to their own libraries. It is possible that this was known long ago to librarians and is not the reason why a very few libraries do not exact fines. Hewitt, however, tells us that although the practice of charging is universal no machinery exists for the recovery of fines. He does say that while recourse to the courts for their recovery is not to be recommended, exclusion from the use of the library would be admissible. Without arguing for or against fines, the fact that they persist and are in the view of many a commonsense and necessary way of ensuring the return of books, and that the Acts give authority for the making of byelaws for the good management of libraries, there appears to be a case for getting the matter settled one way or other. No librarian wants to act in disregard of law, but it is difficult to get a case heard as, for the sake of the small sum involved in a fine and remembering the relatively large sum involved in a court action, few borrowers will be found to challenge fines. It is our own business to see that our ways are legal.
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