Reading into It: Fines, Fees and Filching

Theft or Accident?

The purpose of libraries is for the public or specific patrons to have access to thousands of books library-wide. This could be for research or plain entertainment. The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, containing over 167 million books. However, smaller libraries such as the Albany County Public Library, or William Robertson Coe Library at the University of Wyoming, only contain an average of about 8,000 books. With the implementation of modern technology, it is quite rare that a book might be stolen from a library nowadays, but it certainly happens.

“We frequently stop people at our security gates leaving the libraries, but more often than not, those are false alarms. Every once in a while you’ll come across someone who has something they haven’t checked out,” said Shannon Person, Coe library’s Circulation Manager.

Albany County Public Library Building
Photo from Laramie Live

Sometimes, it even happens more often than not. At Coe library, there is only one entrance and one exit that contains security gates. However, this is not the case for all libraries everywhere. For instance, at the Albany County Library in Laramie, Wyoming, there are multiple doors throughout the building, which the library’s head director Ruth Troyanek, has mentioned that this does sometimes cause issues.

“Theft here comes in spurts, I would say, a couple times a year, several times a year. There’s more than one exit from our building, and it’s an old building so we don’t have the greatest security, so sometimes people can sneak out alternative entrances,” said Troyanek.

David Kruger, UW Coe Librarian

Although people have library cards or have free access to their school library through tuition, some still feel the need to swipe books. Along with the Albany County library, Coe has experienced some interesting events of people stealing books in the past as well. People have found ways around Coe’s security gates to take books without checking them out.

“We used to have windows that would open along the older stacks, and it was very common that we would have people dropping things out the window and then picking them up and bypassing the security gates all together,” said David Kruger, Coe library’s Agricultural Research Librarian.

However, Troyanek and Person both mentioned that people are usually given the benefit of the doubt and it’s assumed that they simply forget to stop by the check-out desk when leaving.

Crunching the Numbers

Each library has their own fine policies put in place. For example, according to an article written by Betsy Megas, who has served on library boards for over a decade, she says that a recent report had been done on annual fines collected by libraries, and the average cost collected per year by the average library is roughly 182,000 dollars. This number does not include fines for overdue or damaged electronic devices, either. As for smaller libraries, like Albany County for example, that number is less, since there are fewer items.

“Our annual materials budget is 75,000 dollars for both electronic resources and physical materials, and I would estimate at least 2,000 dollars, perhaps more, is taken each year,” said Troyanek.

Ruth Troyanek, Albany County Public Librarian
Photo from the Laramie Boomerang

Albany County library also does not fine patrons for overdue books. Methods there are a little bit different than the typical overdue book policy.

“Here, we don’t charge overdue fines for any items except DVDs for adults and board games. However, we hold people accountable for returning the items still, so what we do is send overdue notices to our patrons through email. Eventually, after 121 days of being overdue, if a patron owes 75 dollars or more for items that they have not returned, we send them to a collection agency,” said Troyanek.

Between theft, overdue books and materials and damaged items, it was agreed upon by Person, Troyanek and Kruger that the combination of both overdue items and theft contribute the most to the total cost of lost money each year in their libraries.

“Probably a combination of both theft and failure to return a book contribute the most to our lost average. The most painful thing for us is that sometimes, people will check out a book, and a period of time will pass, and we will buy a new copy of that book, and then the person will find the item and return it. When this happens, by policy, we have to refund the money they paid us for the lost item, so we definitely lose money when something like this happens,” said Troyanek.

Libraries do everything in their power to do good for the public, and a lot of times, give patrons the benefit of the doubt. Troyanek. Kruger and Person all agreed that the whole idea of a library is generally a very nice service, so there is really no need to steal when people can simply borrow.

William Robertson Coe Library at UW

“Our patron group is college students and the wyoming public, and we want people to have good feelings about the library, and if we block people with fees that they can’t afford to pay, they’re losing access to a really great service,” said Person.



Catching Flight

Intramural basketball teammates Brody Wristen (far left), and Justin Kilgore (center), watch as Kole Earhart makes a layup before their game on Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. The boys warm up in Half Acre Gymnasium for their first co-ed intramural game of the school year at the University of Wyoming.

In order to shoot “Catching Flight,” I thought it would be a good idea to go to the Half Acre gym to get some shots because I play intramural basketball myself, so I knew when the games were taking place and that I’d be able to get a few shots. Personally, I knew that this might be a popular location to shoot sports related photos, so I went into the other gym instead of the main gym and caught pictures of players that were warming up rather than actually playing in a game. It was quite easy to get this shot. I felt natural. Even though I didn’t know these people, I just crouched down behind them and in the corners where I wasn’t to disturb them, and just told them to ignore me when they asked. I wanted to get a photo that contained contrast with the yellow and brown walls, and I loved that I captured “Catching Flight” with the UW logo on the wall.

Waiting for you

University of Denver student Abigail Croell sits and waits patiently for a friend to meet her in downtown Denver on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019.

This past weekend, I visited my home which is near Denver. I thought it would be a great idea to go to downtown Denver because there’s always so many people roaming around, especially on the weekends. So, I took my brother with me and started shooting in random places in Denver. I saw the featured subject sitting on a bench and I zoomed in a bit to snap pictures of her. It was fairly easy to shoot “Waiting for you,” because I was kind of hidden behind a pole and a fence, and it was also shortly after 5:30 p.m., so it was dark enough for me to stay hidden, but light enough for me to get a dramatic picture. This is my favorite shot I took for this project. Her facial expression almost looks as if she is posing, which I thought was very neat since she wasn’t. I felt good about taking these shots, because when I asked the subject for her name, she asked to see the photos and she said they were awesome. She was very kind and supportive of my position as a new student photographer with this project. I would also say I wanted to go for contrast in “Waiting for you” as well, because the second I saw her expression in my photos, I wanted to make it black and white.

Eureka, Urrea!

Mexican/American author Luis Alberto Urrea, 63, visited the Cooper Carriage House at the University of Wyoming on Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. Urrea is currently on a book tour for his most recently published 2018 novel, The House of Broken Angels. Urrea is a poet, essayist and novelist of 18 best-selling books.

I saw this opportunity to take shots of a best-selling novelist on a flyer that was hanging in the classroom building at UW. I went to his reading and sat right in the front row to take shots of him. “Eureka, Urrea!” turned out to be my favorite because it really captured the man he is. He was smiley and friendly the entire event. He had an extremely tragic life as he described it, but that was not the type of man that he appeared to be, and this photo speaks for itself. It was very easy to get this shot. It felt fluid and natural to just take shots and capture his happiness as he continued to share his story with the audience. I actually did notice myself feeling very sad when I was shooting photos of him, because as I mentioned, he had a very hard and tragic childhood, so seeing his smile made me feel a little bit as if he had learned to get very good at just “laughing it off” and putting a mask on his whole life. However, I could tell that writing books makes him happy, and talking about his novels makes him happy, so I felt honored to photograph him in his element.

The world needs more cow…girls!

University of Wyoming equine science student, Emma Viellieu, greets her horses, Sahara (left), and Thunder (right), on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. Viellieu visits the Open Range Barn and Stable every day to feed, train and maintain her horses.

I would say aside of going to Denver to take photos, this part of the project was the most fun. I am not a horse person; I know nothing about them and I have never ridden one. So, it was super interesting for me to step outside of my box and go visit a lifestyle that I’ve never exposed myself to before. That being said, “The world needs more cow…girls!” was very easy for me to take. I must have spent an hour and a half at the stable snapping photos of people with their horses. It was so fascinating to me. I love this photo because it actually looks like the horse is kissing the subject, and it is so adorable. Shooting at this location made me super happy and everything felt easy and go-with-the-flow. All the subjects I shot pictures of were so friendly and happy, so it was hard for me to choose a shot from this portion of the project.


University of Wyoming student and faculty member, Caitlyn Mlodzik (left), and Val Pexton (right), attend the Luis Alberto Urrea reading on Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. Mlodzik takes notes as Pexton listens to the author’s life story and journey into becoming a writer.

“Starstruck” came along naturally while I was attending Urrea’s book reading intending to shoot “Eureka, Urrea!” I was shooting and listening to Urrea during the reading, and I noticed how intrigued the subjects in “Starstruck” were, so I shifted a little bit and tried to get a natural shot of the subjects. This shot may not look like a lot, but it was a good shot to me because I was so in-the-moment at this book reading, and after feeling my personal reaction to Urrea’s story, I wanted to capture the faces of other listeners and see what they thought of the event. I also liked how the colors of the red chairs and bright green wall in the back pop out at the viewer. All the colors looked wild, but at the same time, they definitely defined such a strong literature setting.

Exploring the Unique Devices of Photography

Symmetry and Patterns

Snake Plant (sansevieria trifasciata) from the University of Wyoming Conservatory

This image of a Snake Plant represents an example of the symmetry and pattern photography device mostly because of the zebra-patterned leaves. It is almost like an illusion; the eyes are drawn from the bottom leaf into the center hole of the plant, and then as you look at the hole, it looks like the stripes on the the leaves are moving. The tiny thorns on the edge of each leaf are almost perfectly spaced from one another. Its a beautiful zebra pattern that flows down every leaf on the plant.


Bird’s Nest Fern (asplenium nidus) from the University of Wyoming Conservatory

This photo of a Bird’s Nest Fern displays a visual of the background device because the viewer’s eyes are immediately drawn to the bright, shiny green leaves, and then slowly they scan around the image to the back drop of the dark, wet rocks. This photo also incorporates a little bit of the contrast device into it as well, as the colors of the plants are all very bright and happy, and the rocks are dark and cold. It shows a beautiful combination of both unique photography devices.


Bromeliad (bromeliaceae) from the University of Wyoming Conservatory

This snapshot of a gorgeous Bromeliad flower screams color. It is most noticeable that the whole surrounding color is different shades of green, however, as the viewer’s eye is quickly focused on the multicolored flower, it somewhat mutes the background of different greens and merges them all into one big blob of green. There are tiny little purple petals in the upper left corner as well, which is another subtle addition of color to the Bromeliad that takes most of the eye’s attention.


Unknown Name, photo from the University of Wyoming Conservatory

This image represents texture, one of the unique photography devices that makes the viewer build an attachment to the image because they can actually visualize what the texture would feel like. The well-spaced spikes on the plant show off their pointy texture along with tiny water droplets on each individual spike. This photo also has a little bit of the leading lines device because as the viewer’s eye starts on the clear and focused part of the plant towards the bottom, the long tubes start to lead the eye up towards the blurry base of the plant in the back of the image.

Establishing Size

Multiple Plant Display from the University of Wyoming Conservatory

This photo symbolizes the photography device of establishing size quite well. It has a lot going on, but in this context, that’s a good thing. The immediate reaction to this image is to notice the giant green plant and it’s long delicate leaves bursting out in every direction. The viewer’s eye then roams the rest of the photo down to the smaller plants at the bottom, which helps to notice the comparison in size between the little plants and the giant plant overseeing the others.


All of these images were great ways of showing some of the many unique photography devices. The assignment was really relaxing and enjoyable in getting to spend some time in the conservatory looking at the beautiful plants and flowers. Something surprising was how amazing some of these photos came out on just a cell phone camera. The assignment taught great steadiness, clarity and focus. I always love taking photos, especially when I am happy with the turn out. If anything could’ve been done differently, next time I would try to use a real photography camera with a bigger lens that allows for more light.

An Intro to Blogging

I am so excited to start this new journey on a new media platform to me through blogging! I know that it may potentially cause my other media accounts to become more noticed, so I am anxious to see if that actually works! I am very familiar with most forms of media, but I have never had my own website, channel or blog before, so this is a really exciting step for me! I can’t wait to learn more about how to manage my own site and see where it will take me.

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