Category Archives: free

Are “Fine Free” Public Libraries Really Better For the City of St Paul?

Up until the new year I was a fine-paying public library patron, as many people in St Paul were.  I paid my fines, it was painful, it didn’t seem fair, but I paid them. This was the case up until recently when St Paul Public Libraries went “fine free”.  The fines I paid over the years happened because had I forgotten or I didn’t have the time to turn in materials. Each time I thought: next time, I would remember to bring my materials in before they were overdue, given the opportunity.  I would change for the better from this lesson. However, there won’t be next time in St Paul, these fine events are something many people will no longer experience. And in being unable to accrue library fines in St Paul, I found out that lack of in-depth research and hopeful positive intentions are perhaps why it is that way.  Let me share with you some research on the topic and you decide on fines or no fines at the public library, what you learn through data from fines studies may surprise you, I was certainly surprised.

The St Paul Public Library’s “Fine Free” webpage asks the question: Why go fine free?”  and they answer: “It’s good for our community. Our community is stronger and healthier when people have access to the programs, services, and materials they need to pursue their educational, career, family, and life goals. We hope this will encourage prior users to come back to the library and attract new users to experience our offerings.”  All of these hopes and aspirations may have good intentions, but does ending fines and fees at the public library help our community? Does it make our community stronger and healthier? Does it allow for more programs, services, and materials that patrons need to pursue their educational, career, and life goals?  Let’s look at a few studies and find out.

On the St Paul Public Library’s (SPPL) website (https://sppl.org/about-fine-free/) it states that: “Late fines are not effective. Studies have shown that small fines have no impact on return rates. According to “Removing Barriers to Access,” a Colorado State Library whitepaper: “The scant research on the impact of library fines and fees does not indicate a clear benefit to administering these polices and may be costly to enforce.”  This line is directly taken from “Removing Barriers to Access” research which is not a peer reviewed journal, which ironically, provides many references to prove the ineffectiveness of fines while providing zero references on the effectiveness of fines and fees, further suggesting there is more than “scant research” and perhaps exposing an information bias.  

Moreover, SPPL’s “Fine Free” webpage cites this single study on the effectiveness of fines and fees, but there has to be more to the story than “scant research”.  Simply suggesting with a broad generalization that there is a lack of research on library fines does not prove that those fines are ineffective–or effective, especially when citing only one study.  This study proves that one side of the argument might show a result happened in this single study or other case studies under certain conditions, based on other studies with the same opinion, but fail to mention any benefits of fines and fees.  Nothing to change policy on, more information is needed, right?

In an attempt to retrieve more information I found the study SPPL offers is only one of at least a few studies on the topic; each with a somewhat different conclusion, making any decision on eliminating fines premature.   

A study at The Journal of Librarianship (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2013.08.011) shows the opposite may be true about eliminating fines: “The results indicate that fines indeed make a difference in patron book return behavior. Patrons who borrowed books under a fines policy returned books before due dates at a statistically significantly higher rate. As a result of this study, it is determined that a fines policy is an effective tool to ensure that books are returned on time and available to the maximum number of library users.”  The maximum number of library users sounds like a lot of people who would be positively impacted by fines and fees. This data being acknowledged, the debate over library fines is far from a conclusion.

Another interesting point related to financial resources is cited on SPPL’s website: “It’s fiscally responsible. Due to the rise in electronic materials (which do not accrue late fines) and other factors, fines are not a sustainable form of revenue for the library. Money collected from fines and fees has gone down steadily for the past 10 years.”, no source was cited with this information.  Yet, a study from Bowling Green State University, Fine Efficacy: An Experimental Study of the Effect of Daily Fines on Borrower Return Habits  (https://libguides.bgsu.edu/fine-research)  indicates that “eliminating fines caused a 33% decline in revenue generated, despite increasing reserve fines and billing fees to compensate for the loss of daily fine payments  They also saw a small increase in number of books that became overdue, even though loan periods had been extended.” This data is compelling considering modern libraries need all of the funding resources they can acquire to provide the valuable resources and services to our communities.

Now, I ask: to what end is SPPL eliminating fines and fees when there is counter-research that suggestsµ doing so could create a negative outcome?  To look good? Good intentions abound but there is lack of evidence that the practice of ending fines or making libraries “fine free” does anything to improve or expand the community readership, patron satisfaction, or even benefit those who no longer accrue fines at any income level.  What happens when patrons can no longer check out a book because it is drastically overdue or assumed lost, and that higher cost to cover a new book is not paid, what costs will the library incur to replace that material resource and have it sent out in a timely manner, if at all? These are some questions undiscussed, seemingly brushed over.  

When taking an assortment of library fines and fees studies into account, perhaps, it is safe to say that there is more research needed and necessary to responsibly change policy within public libraries, especially if it has the potential to decrease fiscal resources for library functions and increase the number of overdue books, essentially limiting those resources for fellow patrons.  Forgiving fines may remove a great lesson from our society, it may show that punctuality and holding to a plan, and having responsibility, is an outdated practice. But eliminating fines may prove beneficial, and create more access. Either way we must keep learning in order to understand the weight of decisions on such important institutions, both sides have plenty to check out.

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The Persistence/There Factor

Billions of hungry people around the world have been served at Mc Donald’s, capital B Billions.  That said, I will not be discussing food quality in this piece, I will discuss presence and how it as a resource is POWERFUL.

When you see those golden arches you are guaranteed that you can get a sweet happy meal, or some hamburger of some sort, always.  They have the THERE FACTOR: they are there.  Those arches are present.  You are aware that if you drive up to a Mc Donald’s you will be served and get your food.

That feeling, that knowing is persistence.  The feeling their presence gives is relief.  Those arches are almost always there on some traveler’s journey.  That is persistence, Mc Donald’s does it for you and billions others.  Persistence is integrity imagined.  Feeling makes us all feel.  That presence is power.

Understanding this about presence is valuable.

So the next time you want to make a positive impact: Be the first one there and the last one gone.  Every time.  Be those golden arches, show those around you that you can be guaranteed to do what must be done to get the job done.

Also, be that inspiration.  Show up early, do more than you must, stay longer, work harder, and keep coming back for more.  You will win with patience and practice.  You will take it to the top if you keep being there.

And here’s the reality:  others may tire out, they may lose strength.  You are not others.  Go one more.  Keep coming back and never give up.

When the outlook is impossible, prove the outlook wrong.  Stand like those arches and don’t sway.  Have the Persistence/There Factor, everyone’s Big Mac is waiting, you will give it to them.  They will reward you.  You will take it to the top if you never give up and keep trying.  Don’t stop.  Go.

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A Vote for Jeff Johnson is a Vote for Lower Taxes for All Minnesotans

If you are a Minnesotan, you pay the 5th highest tax burden in the nation, that is a fact. That means your taxes are very progressive, which, means your taxes are extremely costly to you.

Acknowledging this fact, Minnesotans cannot afford a candidate who supports additional and more aggressive state and local taxes (like the gas tax and others) especially when we are already paying more than our fair share for all.

That is why in November I, and many others, those who are fed up with high taxes with limited gains, will vote for Jeff Johnson for governor. Minnesota cannot afford another tax-and-spend politician like Tim Walz, or his Democrat cohorts.

Taking from citizens will not solve the problems of the government. Vote for your dollar, vote for your freedoms, vote for Jeff Johnson.

Don’t fall into hand-wringing hot-button topics politics.  We don’t need big government with its heavy price tag. We need accountability and efficiency, a better deal for Minnesotans.

Vote for less government, less taxes, vote for Jeff Johnson.

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How Trump’s “Secret Weapon” may have Bought the Election from Facebook for $100 Million Dollars and You just Updated your Facebook Status

Before you read this thesis watch the entire video that I share with you above. Watch it for the information about Facebook and social media, not because you dislike or like a politician, or for politically motivated reasons.

Observe this video from a marketing and social media engineering point of view. That is how the below thesis is posed.  This is in no way a political statement.  This is purely for observational purposes.

Thank you for reading in advance.  Also, you can donate to keep my blog current, and the information relevant.  Any amount helps, even a dollar.  Click the donate button.  You rock!

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Parscale attributed the success of his vast social media presence to using the assistance offered by companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Google. He said that because the Trump campaign intended to spend $100 million on social media, companies in that area were prepared to assist the campaign in using that money effectively.[18]

“The campaign poured money into Facebook, sending thousands of versions of tweaked ads to maximize response. Then it won the presidency by a margin narrow enough that Parscale (and Facebook) can justifiably take credit.”[19]

— Philip Bump, The Washington Post”

Link: Brad Parscale

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The contentious 2016 United States Presidential Election may have been won with a $100 million dollars, a “secret weapon”, and Facebook when used together.  Or it may have been won by any other boilerplate theory out there that can be backed by anyone, by any entity, with any statistics.

Either way, for all intents and purposes, the “secret weapon” in this theory is Brad Parscale, and his tool was/is Facebook.

Perhaps, I want to believe that the 2016 election was won honestly and fairly because I am a thoughtful American citizen and I have hope, but the more I look at the events, the more I see glaring inconsistencies in media stories of Russian Collusion and a general disbelief or ineffective attempt to look at the bigger picture objectively.  Social media played a HUGE role in this particular election, perhaps, as much so, or more, as any outside forces.

I aver, when looking at possibilities, generally we must look at everything, even information that has been overlooked from 10/08/2017 about Brad Parscale’s use of Facebook’s data/advertising tools to amass a successful, though debated, campaign–one which basically won the presidency, putting his candidate in the White House.

Moreover, to me,  the most concerning part of imagining, assessing, or thinking openly that Facebook et al. was used, with money, to command an election in such a way is that people still use the platform religiously every day without question as they cast blame/credit elsewhere.  Perhaps this is being oblivious, or willfully blind.  It can’t be Facebook, right?

Reality check: It definitely can be Facebook.  The reality is an inordinate amount of people are plugged into something (social media) that they wholly do not understand (I am in that boat), and marketers, salespeople, and data analysts are taking full advantage of that reality. (Beknownst, unbeknownst to all.) And how they do that advantageous venture is with huge, huge sums of purposed money.

Perhaps, purposed money and novel strategy, with a “secret weapon”, is what won the 2016 presidential election, along with a special tool of course: Facebook (when utilized by Brad Parscale).  Perhaps there are other entities pulling strings, but Parscale and his efforts warrant consideration, and notation.

Beyond Parscale and social media, the secondary key in this thesis is the $100 million dollars went to marketing–the unprecedentedly complex advertising itself, and the lack of the Clinton campaign to embed Facebook and other social media employees within their campaign offices, as the Trump campaign did.  And this may have swayed the election.  I consider this maneuver to be out of touch in the age of social media.  That’s glaringly foolish, in my opinion.

It’s like going to the World Series and leaving all your big hitters on the bench, extremely odd for a veteran politician…

Now, after these events, it sounds obvious to have key workers from these social media entities within your organization. Have one of the most influential and most recognized companies on your side in the most important race on the planet, possibly.  Don’t leave much to chance. That is not genius, that is obvious. It wasn’t to some, clearly.

Further, not having social media on your side on your account seems very out of touch with reality. Even if you despise Facebook and are not a member of the brand, you have to recognize that it is a powerful tool for connecting people everywhere. For example, I am not on Facebook anymore but I realize it’s marketing potential, (I also realize at Christmastime that my parents and in-laws like to connect with high school friends.  I don’t know why…  I use email).

Bringing it home, the video above is not only astonishing to me, because I am just learning about Brad Parscale, and because of the information it gives on the key marketing tactics used within social media to win an election and manipulate a demographic of people is vast and accurate, but this technology seems potentially dangerous. The scary part in any situation is that money seems to make that happen. If money wanted you to be a modern zombie or a group think solider it would already be happening.  And maybe you wouldn’t know.  You’d just go with it and update your status.  Probably not though, you are smart. 🙂

Accordingly, maybe someday we can better predict the future of everything, that is my prediction for the future.

For what it’s worth, with much of the media linking Parscale to Russia and basically making him look like a Sith lord in  article photos, I think he could certainly be a critical part of understanding the 2016 presidential election, and definitely to harnessing momentum in future elections.  At least his methods are very straightforward, in appearance, and no-nonsense.  Definitely they are of interest.

His use of social media tools to reach an audience with a campaign message has never been done before at such a level, and he has worked on “zero” elections before.

In general, that utilization of resources–if that is what it truly was, is progressive and inspiring to me.  He has been overlooked; and he is right there in front of us.  As is the power of social media, but we have other excuses.  Russia is scary and influenced the election. Trump may have cheated, etc. Any narrative is believable. But look at how many people around you are on Facebook clicking around, social media, exposing themselves to it all.  Marketing is more common than the other alleged threats.  I hope you like this post.

What influence.  What money and focused ideas can buy.

I washed my car yesterday in 40 degree Minnesota cold and then I ate some Ramen Noodles, it cost me nothing and saved me a lot more

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Even notice how a boat with a few holes in it sinks over time and it becomes more worrisome the farther you are from land? I do. Now place this image of a boat sinking on your financial situation. You lose a dollar here, ten over there, $2.50 on that one thing; the boat is your bank account. That boat is sinking slowly and you are out to see, sharks, such as creditors, banks, and lenders are following in the murky deep. We almost sank again, but this time I told my wife instead of paying for a car wash I would do it myself. Watch.

Yesterday day came and went with a car wash in the 40 degree Fahrenheit warm of St Paul, Minnesota. I think people looked at me as though I were crazy, carrying buckets from my basement to splash and lather a car I cannot afford on a side street. Yeah, I feel pretty dumb leasing it, though the lease is up in less than 20 months and we will be on to something new. The whole time I polished this machine I thought of how stupid it made me feel, to live beyond my means. People watched that spectacle, another Subaru driver waved, my neighbor sold a beater and asked me how my day was. Great! Beautiful day!

And that is why I eat Maruchan ramen noodles and rice. (With a price tag of under $5 for a number of meals I can consider myself winning.) SO, imagine now your boat sinking, money floating away, those sharks behind, empty fridge at home, wife wondering what is going to happen, and then $10 is about to go away for a car wash that leaves you wanting better. Yeah, and that car is parked in the garage losing value, begging for insurance to be paid–the expensive kind. I can get a bit cold and wet outside on such a nice day, save us money, buy us time. My debt snowball is about to be rolling, debt avalanche.

After all this, I learned something. If you can’t get creative and do it yourself, it ain’t worth doing. And if your food restrictions do not work with your frugality or goals towards financial fitness, you may need to think about your goals. Because, how I see it, you can either be gluten free or debt free, I know the gluten is asking me to buy their beach house on credit, but that’s just my opinion.  That beach house is where those debt institutions are watching your boat sink slowly from afar, thinking about monetizing your financial death on YouTube (which is another story), so they can earn more.

97% of American Millennials can be completely debt free in less than 8 years by doing one simple thing, here’s how…

Have you ever woken up and thought that you could actually be debt free, I mean, like, really debt free in your lifetime? No student loan payments, no car payments, no mortgage, no credit card payments… It probably feels like the “fuck-you money” kind of awesome, going from indebted-and-paying-constantly to just existing to peacefully nothing, to actual freedom. That is something. That is real. And how you get there is you set goals and get away from the news and social media. I am working towards getting there, mildly broke now but slowly and surely getting better.  You see, I am horrible at math but because reading a few books about personal finance and factoring with logic, I know I can be out of credit card debt, student loan debt, and all other consumer debt in 5 to 8 years if I just get focused and do. And you can too if you set goals and work hard and stay persistent in your endeavors. You can do anything you set your mind to. Imagine, taking the same amount of time you spend every day updating your social media or working with a movement for someone else’s goals and dreams or investing your time into reading ADvantageous to advertisers news, and putting it towards YOUR GOALS and YOUR DREAMS. You can do it with hard work and time, 98% of the time, guaranteed. Stop being distracted and focus on bettering your situation and in 8 years see how far you have come, 98% of Americans will have changed, hopefully, for the better.

Financial Freedom as I Walk Through My Neighbor’s House 

I walked through my neighbor’s house today looking for flaws and thinking how I would never buy this place, ever. It’s too small and I like unfinished basements.  I went house-shopping today but did not buy. Instead, of buying the American Dream I take a step back and try to get out of our American Nightmare first: credit card and student debt.  I walk through my neighbor’s house and I know I should have started earlier, as most millennials. But unlike the aforementioned group–my “tribe”, I protest that and focus on financial freedom.  I have no time for distractions, I know I’m funding some bank exec’s beach.  Also, wait til the housing market crashes again.