Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How High Gas Prices Breed Irresponsibility

Melanie's and my car gets approximately 200 miles per tank of gas. The last time we filled up our gas tank, it was over $40. Luckily, we only have to fill up the tank about once every three weeks. Still, it's a sobering thought to realize it's costing us $.20 per mile to drive. I remember filling up for $15, and though I am young, I needn't even go back as far as my high school days to have such memories. With the same mileage I am getting now, a $15 fill-up would have been equivalent to paying just seven-and-a-half cents per mile driven. Wow.

My library is located 2.5 miles from my home. That means it costs me a buck to drive to my library and back. In contrast, the late fee on overdue books is $.15 per day. Hence, if ever I have plans to visit an establishment that is located near the library (e.g. Wal-Mart) within six days of a book being due, it is in my best interest not to return the book on time, but to wait until I am going to that nearby establishment and to return the book as part of the same outing. Even if I wait the maximum six days, I will have saved myself ten cents by being delinquent in my return of the book than I would have spent returning the book on its proper due date. The more books that are due, the less leeway I will have, but under typical circumstances, procrastination stands a good chance of being a financially viable option.

Sad news for libraries, eh? It seems a $.15 fine will no longer be adequate for encouraging those of us who live more than a couple of blocks from our library to be responsible patrons. It may even result in people frequenting the library less and less often, and before you know it, literacy rates will be plummeting. All because of the price of oil. Crude, indeed.


  1. This is an awesome post. This is how my mind thinks, but I could never put it quite the way you do.

  2. I could never do that. I get very anxious about things like that. Our local library gives you a week before they officially charge you late fees, but even if it is inconvenient I still have to return it on the day it is due.

  3. Well, who'da thunk it?????
    Even the libraries, eh? I suppose even they will have to raise the 'price' on their fees.
    I've seen a lot of little scooters and bikes this summer. Maybe that's the trend of the future, although I can't imagine such a thing in Atlanta.

  4. You are amazing. To see all this, figure it out, and then express it all so well. Wow. Now I finally get the whole "recession" thing. It's sometimes hard to understand how one thing affects something so insignificant and distant seeming. Maybe the sky really is falling!?

  5. My fellow librarians may not like me for saying this, but let your books ride the bus. Try returning a cheap book from the public library to your campus library the morning it's due. Find out how many days it takes to get checked in at the public library.

    See, what happens in a case like that is that the campus library will typically send the books to the public library, usually on a courier van that makes regular trips to the public and academic libraries for interlibrary loans. So why drive to the public library if you're going to be on campus anyway?