[Libs-Or] Fine Free Libraries

Diedre Conkling diedre08 at gmail.com
Fri Jan 25 12:57:09 PST 2019

I’ve been reading through the responses others have made and so far they
haven’t touched on the issue that made me want to have fine free libraries.

I worked as a circulation clerk between 1975 and 1978, before running off
to get my library degree.  Collecting fees is very hard on circulation
staff.  They are the ones who get to deal with most of the anger from
patrons.  When I was a circulation clerk we always looked up the patron
record, before it was an automated process, and would always let patrons
know about their fines.  I think the fine level was $ .10 per day but it
might have been $.05 per day.  The circulation staff informally decided it
just wasn’t worth it to argue anything that was less than $1.00.  We would
just delete the fines if the patron argued.  Yes, we did not get permission
from the head of the department or the library director to do this but we
really had to do it for our own mental health.

When getting my MLS I did look for literature about charging fines and
return rates.  There were articles saying charging fines improved return
rates.  There were articles saying that fines didn’t improve return rates.
There were articles saying that return rates were the same but items were
returned a bit later than the due date more frequently when fines weren’t
charged.  These articles were written before many libraries had an ILS and
I think the research on this would be much better today.

My decision after all of this was that I would not have fines in a library
is I was ever in the position to make that decision.  My main reason for
not wanting fines has always been to reduce stress on staff.

When I got to Lincoln County we were just putting in our first ILS.  The
Lincoln County Library District (not a facility used by patrons) managed
the Siletz Library.  We were putting in the perimeters for library
circulation rules and I immediately made the Siletz Library fine free.
Other libraries in the county have gone fine free over the years for their
own reasons.

We have always sent out overdue notices and do charge for the replacement
of very overdue items.  We just don’t have fines.

On Fri, Jan 25, 2019 at 11:33 AM Rita J Radford <riddlecitylibrary at gmail.com>

> Will someone please explain to me the advantage of "fine-free"?  In my
> thinking it removes responsibility from the patron and cheapens the value
> of our collections. This is only the second time I've heard of this concept
> so perhaps I don't have the whole picture.
> In the dark,
> Rita Radford
> Riddle City Library
> On January 25, 2019, at 10:20 AM, Diedre Conkling <diedre08 at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> I just noticed that not all of the Oregon libraries without fines are on
> this map,
> https://endlibraryfines.info/fine-free-library-map/
> --
> *Diedre Conkling*
> *diedre08 at gmail.com* <diedre08 at gmail.com>
> “If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change
> your attitude.”―Maya Angelou
*Diedre Conkling*
*diedre08 at gmail.com* <diedre08 at gmail.com>

“If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change
your attitude.”―Maya Angelou
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