Ask The Advocate: Paying those library fines _lowres

Advocate file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Interior of the new Main Library at Independence Park.

Q. I went to the new Main Library at Independence Park recently to renew my card and pay some fines. I assumed that the brand new multi-million dollar facility would accept debit cards. They do not. Why are they only capable of accepting cash or checks, and why can’t cards be renewed online like drivers’ licenses?

A. Mary Stein, assistant director of the East Baton Rouge Parish library system, tells us: “The Library is eager to begin accepting electronic payments too. We realize what a convenience it will be for our patrons who wish to directly manage their library accounts. We are planning system upgrades that will achieve these goals, responsibly and in compliance with city/parish regulations and standards, in 2015.

“We have moved carefully to implement electronic accounting using credit and debit cards because even though the average transaction will be relatively low in terms of dollar amounts, we must make certain that we can offer a suitable level of protection and ensure the security of patron information and financial transactions.

“We are on schedule to upgrade and integrate two new modules into the library’s proprietary computer system. These upgrades will allow electronic payments and interface with the city-parish system for accounting purposes and comply with state laws that regulate the acceptance of such transactions. They will also allow online registration and renewal of accounts. Patrons may already perform online renewals for items checked out on their accounts via the website at, and may even register with our free Library Elf service to receive alerts on items before their due date.”

And throughout December, the library will waive $1 of the total fine for each non-perishable food item the patron donates. The donations, which can be made at any of the 14 branches, will benefit the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.

Need mid-day draws

Q. Why doesn’t the state have Pick 3 and Pick 4 mid-day draws like all others states, and why doesn’t the state lottery have any other games to compete?

A. We checked on that with Kimberly Chopin, director of communications for the Louisiana Lottery Corporation. She says they are “always looking for ways to entertain our players while increasing sales. Currently, we’re very pleased with the performance of our Pick 3 and Pick 4 daily games, which have seen solid increases in sales year over year.

“While we would not rule out ever conducting mid-day draws, we have found that lotteries adding a mid-day draw have not seen a sustainable or significant increase in sales to justify the expense of conducting them. Another consideration is the proliferation of gaming in Louisiana.”

Send us your questions

By mail to Ask The Advocate, 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810; or fax to Ask The Advocate, (225) 388-0371; or email