Apparently, I am guilty of a major ethical lapse, when it comes to my overdue library books.
Take a look at what NY Times ethicist, Randy Cohen has to say about it in this article.
I have been in love with libraries since I was three years old and my mother found out that the perfect way to keep me quiet was to turn me loose in the children's section but allow me to pick out only two books to take home. I could and did spend hours picking out the two BEST books I could find. (My younger sister was less selective, so I always picked out two for her, as well.)
I have never NOT had a fine at the local library in the past forty years. I go in, I check out books, I hand over a couple of dollars and all my loose change, and everyone's happy.
Currently, I owe the libary $11.35. At its highest, my bill was around $40, but when the library instituted a policy of not allowing one to check out materials or renew books if the fine was over $20, I learned to keep the fines under the disqualifying amount.
Until now, I've never considered my overdue books and movies a moral issue. And, to be honest, I never worried much about "keeping the books from other patrons." Like the person who asked Cohen the question, I figured the fine was the "rent" I paid for keeping a book out of circulation longer than expected.
I dunno--I'd like to say I've taken Cohen's words to heart.
But I suspect the day I owe no fines, or get all my books back to the library on time, isn't coming soon.