Sex librarian to lure you into this post.There’s a deadline on everything in college, even your books. When our parents went to school, just a few cents a day accrued for a late book. But today, with extensive inter-library book sharing programs, fines can be more than a dollar per day – it’s how they fund such extensive programs. That sucks. Wouldn’t you like to avoid these fines? It seems impossible to turn a book in late and still walk away un-fined, but I’ll show you how to do it.

Book deadline management

For the moment, let’s talk about how to not be overdue in the first place.

Anything date-sensitive should go in one place: your calendar. It doesn’t matter if it’s school work or a credit card payment – so book due dates are included. By forcing all your deadline dependency into one place, you’ll never miss a date.

But if you’re more of an inbox-centered person, you might try Library Elf. It’s a rather primitive system that’ll just email you a little before a book’s due date (if your library doesn’t already do that for you).


“Back dating” is not “hooking up with your old girlfriend again.”

Back-dating is the simple secret to lateness without the fine-ness. It is possible for an authorized person at the library to back-date a book – that is, they’ll enter the book as having been retuned on a date in the past instead of today.

You have to find that person, smile, and flirt with that person. Explain your financial woes. Beg. Find that friend-of-a-friend who works in the library. Those are just a few of your options. They’ll probably cut your fines down if not forgive them all together.

Find that bin

This is a great method. It’ll get you anywhere from 2-5 days of leeway.

Imagine that you work at a library – you’re a student worker, so you’re already a slacker. There are book drops all over campus. Is it really necessary to check these secluded book repositories on a daily basis? Probably not – nobody even checks out books these days anyway. Plus, you have to lug them all the way across campus.

Instead, most book drops are emptied every 2-5 days, depending on holiday breaks and whatnot. All of the books in that bin are automatically back-dated to the last time the book drop was emptied. This means you can drop a book in and have a shot at its return date being overturned.

Wait till Thanksgiving

There will be a canned food drive at your library leading in to Thanksgiving. And though one can of food will equal a dollars-worth of fines — a can of food does not actually equal one dollar at the store. Never pay your fines right away unless you have to. Wait for fine forgiveness periods like this one.

Rare-book blackmail

Your school has a lost-book charge. Sometimes it varies from book-to-book, but usually it’s a flat amount. It’s pretty lofty – $50 – $150 – depending. But sometimes, your book is worth more than that amount because libraries have old, out-of-print editions.

Look up the book that’s overdue on a book re-selling site (try Amazon or Half). If you can get more dough (or get close to even) by reselling the book than the total of fines-to-date and the lost book fee, then you have two choices: blackmail the librarian with this information, or simply file for a lost book and sell it away.

[photo via Changing World Photography]