We had some patrons yesterday who kinda toed the special snowflake line, but the remark that really bugged me feels like it fits better here.
They waited until the library was closed to bring their DVDs up to check out, and then got annoyed when my coworker informed them that they had fines from the last time they checked out. They had eight DVDs that were all returned three days late, so at 25 cents a day that adds up to six dollars. One of the family said, and I quote,
"There shouldn't be fines until they're, like, three weeks late."
DVDs check out for one week. But apparently there should be no fines until you've had them for four times that long. After being informed that, just, no, the patron at least had the sense to back down from that position. But then she said there should be a grace period where they don't charge fines.
Now that's neither an impossible request nor a special snowflake attitude, in and of itself. Some libraries do things that way, but mine doesn't. She wanted us to break the rules and give just them a grace period, and that's not an impossible request but definitely a request I was not willing to grant. But the general idea of a grace period is fine. I personally have never liked the idea, though, because as far as I'm concerned you've already got a grace period. We check DVDs out for one week and books out for two or four weeks, depending, and that right there is your grace period. Bring the items back or renew them on time and you won't get any fines. It's not rocket science.
Grace periods also breed more entitlement, at least in my experience. If the library has a three day grace period and only starts charging fines on day four, you will inevitably get hordes of people bringing back their items four days late but arguing they shouldn't have to pay fines because, "It's only a day late!" No. Just no.