In January 2019, the American Library Association (ALA) passed a resolution that asserted overdue fines are a barrier to equitable access and encouraged libraries to eliminate them. The ALA is our largest professional organization and we give serious consideration to their resolutions.
The Library Board of Trustees and staff desire to remove this barrier to its resources and to provide more equitable library access to everyone in the community. In going fine free, we are joining the ranks of many other public libraries across the nation. In the lead up to this decision, we carefully reviewed studies and articles about eliminating fines.
Libraries that have adopted fine-free policies found that:
- Library card registrations increased.
- Borrowing of materials increased.
- More library items were returned.
- Students returned to the library to use homework resources.
- Staff time was redirected from fines-handling to patron-focused services.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What Is Fine Free?
Fine free means that there will be no late charges on most materials.* The Union Public Library wants to ensure that ALL of our town has access to our resources in the most equitable way possible. Fines tend to penalize the most vulnerable individuals or families who can’t afford them.
*Due to a limited supply, late charges will still accrue on Video Games and Museum Passes
Why Eliminate Fines?
Research shows that overdue fines are not effective in encouraging the return of library materials. Instead, fines can quickly become a barrier to using the library. Our hope is that by going fine free we will encourage prior users to come back to the library and attract new users to experience everything our library has to offer.
Won’t This Prevent People from Ever Returning Their Items?
Late fines are not effective. Studies show that small fines have no impact on return rates and that those with late fines are less likely to visit the library again. Libraries who have removed late fees report few adverse effects on material return rates. The public library model is based upon a trusting relationship between borrowers and a valued community resource. Union Public Library trusts that borrowers will return items on time, so that others may use them.
Will There Be Due Dates?
Every item checked out will still have a due date. Please remember that someone else may be waiting for an item, so bring it back on time.
What Happens If I Have Overdue Books?
Once your card reaches a total of 2 overdue items, your library borrowing privileges will be suspended. When that happens, you will not be able to check out more items until the overdue items are returned.
What If I Have a Card with Late Fines on It?
All existing overdue fines have been waived. Some patrons may still see charges for lost or damaged items. Please get in touch with us if you have any questions about your account.
What About Hold Times? Will I Have to Wait Forever for My Item?
We regularly run reports to let us know what the most popular titles are so that we can purchase additional copies. Additionally, items with holds may not be renewed.
What Happens If Someone Doesn’t Return Their Items?
If items are not returned by their due date, they will be considered overdue. If items are overdue by 90-days, patrons will be charged for the replacement cost of the item plus a processing fee. Our fine-free policy applies only to overdue items. Fees for damaged or lost items will still be charged to cardholder accounts. Borrowing privileges will be suspended if there are $10 or more of fees on an account.
I Found an Item that I’m being Charged for as “Lost”. Can I Bring It Back?
Yes, please do! There won’t be any overdue fines, but you may still be responsible for a processing fee depending on how long it’s been “lost”.
What About the Lost Revenue That Overdue Fines Generated?
Overdue fines make up a small part of the library’s budget, and the revenue is tiny compared with the good this new policy will do for our community.
Have Other Libraries Eliminated Late Fines?
Yes! Visit https://endlibraryfines.info/fine-free-library-map/ to see globally how many libraries have adopted fine free policies.
How Can I Support the Library?
We appreciate your support! You can support us by donating to the Friends of the Union Public Library!
Visit our webpage for more information about our Fine Free Policy
Adopted from the Bloomfield Public Library and the Augusta County Library.