When I stopped in the Newport Public Library Monday afternoon to pick up a book I ordered online, I was surprised when the librarian told me they had the book — for a small fee.
The Newport and Middletown libraries, as well as a number of other libraries throughout the state, have been charging patrons a small fee for newly-released "popular" books. (It is unknown if the Portsmouth Free Public Library charges for books.)
The book I ordered, Stephen King's "The Wind Through The Keyhole," would cost me 25 cents per day if I rented it. I could add my name to the waiting list, but there were already 34 holds on it.
I agreed to pay the costs, but it made think about public services and libraries.
In a time when more and more libraries are closing their doors, like the Anne Ide Fuller and Rumford Branch Libraries in East Providence, does it make sense to charge fees for public services? Even Benjamin Franklin, who is credited with founding the first lending library in this country, sold "shares" to borrow literature.
I posted this question on Portsmouth Patch's Facebook page late Monday afternoon. Here's what a few users had to say:
Mary Beaudoin Alexandre: Barrington Public library has been doing this for years
Julie Barrett: and also several libraries in RI have closed, as of friday. i just need to set up a box outside my house, put books i've read from the publishers in it, and let others know, come by and exchange for some you've read.
Donna Nathlar Barone: That's weird....I'm pretty sure it's called Portsmouth Free Library for a reason.
Chris Redfern Carceller: year after year, our town council gives our library the minimum amount it needs to get matching funds from the state. They need more than they get, so maybe our town needs to give more or people need to donate more so all books are rent free. Just a thought.
What do you think about this? Should libraries charge a fee to rent out books? Tell us in the poll and comment section below!