The easiest, and most appropriate, way to avoid library fines is to return your books on time. There is a simple hack, however, that allows a patron to return books past the due date without being fined.
DISCLAIMER: We do not condone this technique - we are merely presenting it as a security hole that libraries should consider.
- Check out library books.
- Keep books past the due date.
- Receive some notice (email or telephone call) that the books are late.
- Take the books back to the library, but do not return them into the drop box; reshelve them in the appropriate place.
- On the same visit to the library, you can go to the librarian and tell them that you received an overdue notice, but that you returned them previously. They will likely check the computer and see that they have not been returned. You can then propose that they might have been mistakenly reshelved without being scanned. A trip to the shelves will show that you are right. You can also perform this step by telephone.
- (Optional but highly recommended) Donate whatever money you saved back to the library.
This technique will only work at libraries that allow users to directly access the stacks.
How Libraries could Block this Techinque
Libraries could easily prevent this technique from being successful by checking the bags of patrons coming into the library. Some libraries already do this for security reasons, but most do not. If they spot an overdue book being brought in, they could confiscate it at the desk and levy the fine.