Tag Archives: MN

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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Pedestrian Deaths in Minnesota, the State with the 5th Highest Tax Burden, A Tragic Reminder that Proper Infrastructure is Necessary and Unaffected by Local Government

1/6/19, St Paul, Minn.–Thursday evening (1/3) two people died at a crosswalk in Roseville, Minnesota after being hit by a vehicle. This tragedy is one that perhaps could have easily been avoided with necessary improved infrastructure and safety measures, lights and signage. The below text is quoted from KSTP News detailing safety concerns prior to the event and its aftermath.

““For my safety, for everybody else’s safety who lives right here, there needs there needs to be a stop sign or lights,” Jordan said.She believes action should have been taken sooner. “I feel it’s the city’s fault,” Jordan said. “It shouldn’t take nobody to get killed for them to do something about it. It just doesn’t make sense.” Larpenteur Ave. is a Ramsey County road that Roseville, Maplewood and St. Paul are all responsible for. Roseville City Manager Patrick Trudgeon told us they started looking at how to make it safer about two years ago. “We certainly don’t want a tragedy such as this to occur,” he said. Trudgeon showed KSTP the Larpenteur-Rice Gateway Area Plan study that each city approved in 2018. It includes plans for mid-block crosswalks, including near the crash site at Marion St. and Larpenteur. “This (tragedy) helps underscore the need to continually be focused on making sure we have safe areas for everybody,” he said. There is still no timeline for when the crosswalks could be installed.”

Source: https://kstp.com/news/roseville-police-identify-driver-pedestrians-killed-crash-thursday/5198936/

The state of Minnesota is highly taxed, and has the 5th highest tax burden in the United States, yet Minnesota cities are unable to fund proper safety measures to improve infrastructure and to fill its epidemic of potholes. People’s lives are now, and have been at stake. This is concerning when other hot button issues motivated by politics and emotion rather than facts and figures appear to be hastily amended without issue: elimination of public library fines and Mayor Carter’s legal defense fund for immigrants.

It is shame that Minnesotans cannot feel safe walking across the street, it is a shame that our tax dollars are not being utilized in ways to prevent such events on public roads and sidewalks right now. Action is needed to improve and make our community infrastructure safer for all. The lack of concern for safety by local government is an egregious oversight, one abdicated by political agenda and image.

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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 spontaneously getting involved in a Grassroots Political Campaign helped me discover the most important thing in the world, let me explain

I am going to tell you what the most important thing in the world is in this post, are you ready?  Accordingly, by the time you are done reading this post you will have learned one of the most important concepts that there is to learn in life, it will feel good.  You will be improved and feel positive.  Let me start with by saying, I found this valuable idea by volunteering for a political party, doing grassroots campaign calls and giving surveys in my spare time.  That is where I found this important idea and why I want to share it with you.

I have never been more excited to share something that wasn’t a sales pitch.  Do you ever get this line from people?  I digress…  That is not what this essay is about, it’s about talking with random strangers on the phone about random strangers who may in a sense rule them and getting something actually human out of it.  Our country is divided into how many parties and there are people out there talking on the phone and reading scripts and sharing ideas.  (And people listen!)  Voice interaction, the old calling someone up and saying “Hello, is (person’s name) there?…  Mind answering a few questions???”

Calling, communicating, asking questions, these things leave an impression.  Impressions are called impressions because they they are pressed on the brain, indelibly hard to forget.  (When someone thinks their ideas matter that makes them feel good.)  I give them a name, tell them more names–familiar recognition, and even if they don’t want to speak to me or take the survey, they hear kindness and associate that kindness with me, with that party.  They hear my voice, some moniker that is a very familiar one–like John or Dan, and they remember that encounter at the voting booth.

For starters, I believe that is what this nameless grassroots campaign wants to happen.  I have read a few books on persuasion, and I realize that unforgettable first impression is exactly what they want to happen.  Blank canvas, hello, think, names, ok, yes, goodbye.  However, it can be difficult; cold callers have the hardest jobs out there because voices give away everything.  Nervousness, confidence, snark.  It’s not a Facebook post, it’s an interaction, in real-time.  The campaign manager wants to be blurt out the names as fast as I can, new names, old names, take a survey, etc.  Think on those memorable names.  And after that, I am surprised people say “yes” because I often say “no” to such surveys.

Remember, this is important.  Doing things in your free time for what you believe in is important, whether that be getting your candidate elected or helping to mentor someone in literacy.  Doing a social experiment for science is important, getting into politics or marketing with persuasion is important.  Going above and beyond a Facebook post or an ad-hoc spectacle or holding a sign proves that you realistically want to do something to make change, like, perhaps writing legislature.  (We’ve all been there.)

Sure, we can all make waves in a group, that is impressive as well, yet we can get carried away from what is deep within our hearts as individuals.

I thought about my little social experiment and it doesn’t matter the party, it doesn’t matter the ideas because they are all for political effect; insomuch as Thomas Sowell said about “rent control”, in Basic Economics:  I paraphrase, it’s all hot button issues, that’s it.  But aside from the hot button political issues, in the end the underdog is the ultimate American.  The one that believes in their values when the popular majority throws them out and calls them dogs, doubts them infinitely.  That is the time when believing in yourself and doing what other people call “stupid”, “idiotic” or “wrong” on social media is the most important.

In conclusion, the most important thing is to do what is most important to you, not what’s important to everyone else and what they think about it.  Don’t worry about a sea of vehement passionists screaming accolades so you fall in line, or shaming you so you steer off course.  Stick to your plan.  Believe in your goals.  Believe in yourself.  If you can change the political color of a state, or someone’s mind, and not need to feel endorsed by everyone with their Twitter likes or their Insta-approval then it means that you are doing something right and that is important.  Even hearing “No, I would not like to take your survey…” is important because that person is telling you how they feel and making a point for what matters to them.  That is the most important thing in the world.

More information:  https://ballotpedia.org/Minnesota_elections,_2018

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A Vikings’ Win when it counts turns Minnesotans into Captain Ahab, hunting his Moby Dick for all Eternity

“This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.” -T.S. Eliot

Last night, after the Minnesota Vikings got DESTROYED by the Philadelphia Eagles, I was flipping through channels on my rabbit ears and found the Gregory Peck film version of the classic American novel Moby-Dick. I found this story to be an apropos metaphor for all die-hard Vikings’ fans at the moment, and for eternity. We are all perpetually Captain Ahab looking for the majestic white whale (a Vikings’ Win when it counts), becoming dangerously obsessed, eventual that idea becomes our mental and physical downfall, to the point of mortal apathy. The game last night ended like the Pequod and it’s ill-fated crew: figuratively eviscerated in a vast ocean of literal Eagles fans and defeatist nostalgia. We, us Ahabs, may never get our Moby Dick–that one win to take our Purple Pride to the Superbowl, especially in our hometown (fuck). Ah, but we will all yell at our TVs, clench our fists, ask the whys and hows, and hope every season, as we scream, THAR SHE BLOWS! that this year will be the one in which we the Vikings will win!

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.

New species of ancient shark discovered in Minnesota’s Driftless region of the upper Mississippi River, scientist said to have found via sonar technology imagery, possibly

megalodon-589dd3b93df78c4758898af9.jpgHouston County, Minn.–This week, in a shocking turn of events, in relation to subjective suggestive southern Minnesota marine biology, archaeologists have discovered a never-before-seen, nor described, fresh-water shark in the Driftless region of the upper Mississippi River valley call.

This so-called Mississippi Bluff Shark–cousin to the infamous megalodon super shark, is said to grow to up to 100-200 feet long, or more, and weigh an incredible 20 tons. It was found in the depths below lock and dam no. 7 near Dresbach, via sonar only, in its clandestine cavern, it’s natural habitat.000880a3-642

These elusive sharks have been thought to have lived in the area for the past 10 zillion years, undiscovered and undisturbed. They have never been discovered, disturbed, or discussed before this time, ever, until relatively recently, well… right now. Dr B. Lion explained.

Dr. B. Lion, the lead riverologist and archeologist for the Driftless Regions Upper Mississippi Environmental River Sect, or (DRUMERS), has absolutely concluded, from one single gray and black 2-D digital image, which lasted for about 3 seconds, that these sharks have existed here for long before humans, as this detailed image is proof. These sharks are probably real, and really old, perhaps!

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The DRUMERS’ latest discover rocks the Driftless region and marine biology of the upper Mississippi. The Mississippi Bluff Shark is considered prevalent and incredibly evasive and elusive, which makes them nearly impossible to see, ever, and no danger at all to river frequenters. Boaters, fisherpeoples, waterskiers and inner-tubers can rest assured they are in limited to almost zero danger, maybe.