[Libs-Or] Libs-Or Digest, Vol 191, Issue 30

John Robert Mead johnbobmead at gmail.com
Sat Jan 26 15:03:27 PST 2019


I've been out of library work for a number of years now, but a lot of what
was just posted struck a real chord with me in regard to fines.

My experience was that fines kept patrons away.
Fines caused stress for front line staff.
Fines didn't generate that large an amount of revenue. Not enough to
justify the development of a confrontational relationship between front
line staff and patrons.

You charge for lost items.
In fact, in my mind, you charge what it would cost to replace it on the
current market, including all of the related personnel and processing
expenses, because I experienced a patron utilizing ILL as a means of adding
items to his library, who when told that it would cost him more to pay for
the "lost item", an item he claimed to have left at a currency exchange (if
you've lived in Chicago you know what these are) than it would to order it
through his local bookstore at BiP price, suddenly he found it and returned
it. And yes, as soon as he heard what we would charge, he quoted the BiP
price; immediately, no pause at all.
You have to make stealing library materials an uneconomical method of
personal library collection development, and uneconomical in regard to
selling them, which requires making the total amount charged to their
account exceed the fair market price for that edition or a functionally
equivalent edition, whichever is higher.

Yes, this isn't nice to those who _did_ lose the item, but unless they can
prove someone forcibly removed it from their possession, it's a penalty for
not upholding their part of the contract as a library patron.
(I still don't have a clue what happened to a picture book I was reading as
a young child, which we never located the following morning; it didn't even
show up when we sold the house a decade later. No clue whatsoever what
happened to it. I had it checked out, it vanished from my bedroom, we paid
for it.)

For people with a history of "loosing" library materials, you block their
borrowing privileges; they can still use them in house. Possibly under
supervision, depending upon other considerations.
This does require keeping track of the fact that they have lost items after
they've paid the charges, and have your system generate flags concerning
them after x number of items lost.

And... when you charge for lost items, when you block borrowing privileges,
supervisory staff steps in and deals with it.
You don't throw that on your front line staff.
Things which involve being confrontational with your patrons should not be
the responsibility of the folks at the front line in a library, if it can
be avoided.
(Part of that sentiment on my part stems from management _not_ backing up
staff when staff followed written policy and it got confrontational. If you
aren't willing to enforce policy due to it causing "bad press", change the
policy; don't stab your staff in the back. Yes, I'm still bitter.)

Yours,


John Mead

On Sat, Jan 26, 2019 at 12:00 PM <libs-or-request at listsmart.osl.state.or.us>
wrote:

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> Today's Topics:
>
>    1. Re: Fine Free Libraries (Julie Retherford)
>    2. Re: Fine Free Libraries (Diedre Conkling)
>
>
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> Message: 1
> Date: Fri, 25 Jan 2019 12:01:44 -0800
> From: "Julie Retherford" <julie at chetcolibrary.org>
> To: "'Rita J Radford'" <riddlecitylibrary at gmail.com>,
>         <Libs-Or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us>
> Subject: Re: [Libs-Or] Fine Free Libraries
> Message-ID: <031d01d4b4e8$cc576940$65063bc0$@chetcolibrary.org>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
>
> Hi, Rita!  My current library here (and the entire Coastline Consortium)
> just recently went fine free for juveniles, but not for everyone. I would
> love to go 100% fine free, though.  My library in Ohio went fine free a
> couple years and it was great.
>
>
>
> Basic arguments for it:
>
> *        Research shows fines don?t have a real impact on return rates
>
> *        Fines only have an impact on low income people?it?s not a big
> deal for someone with money to pay a $10 fine, but for someone who doesn?t
> have a job or struggles to pay their bills, you may as well ask for $500
>
> *        For a lot of libraries, fine collection is a very small part of
> their budget
>
> *        What has a bigger impact on return rates is blocking checkouts.
> If someone has 3 overdue items and they aren?t allowed to check anything
> else out until they return the overdue items, they will return them.
>
> *        It creates a TON of goodwill from the community. When we went
> fine free it was in the newspapers and on the radio, and we milked it. And
> we had a HUGE number of people come in after not having come in for 20+
> years, all because they had very minor late fines.
>
> *        If something is more than 4 or 6 or 8 weeks overdue (however long
> you want), you just charge them for the book. Late fines do not preclude
> you from having lost item charges
>
>
>
> There are a lot of articles out there about going Fine Free.  I encourage
> you to take some time and learn about it! And if you?re going to be at
> WLA-OLA, I?m in the group presenting with Kirsten Brodbeck-Kenney and would
> be happy to chat with you more.
>
>
>
> Regards,
>
>
>
> Julie Retherford, Director
>
> Chetco Community Public Library
>
> 541.469.7738
>
>  <http://www.chetcolibrary.org/>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> From: Libs-Or [mailto:libs-or-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us] On
> Behalf Of Rita J Radford
> Sent: Friday, January 25, 2019 11:34 AM
> To: Diedre Conkling <diedre08 at gmail.com>; libs-or at listsmart. osl. state.
> or. us <libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us>
> Subject: Re: [Libs-Or] Fine Free Libraries
>
>
>
> 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 < <mailto:
> diedre08 at gmail.com> 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
>  <mailto: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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> Message: 2
> Date: Fri, 25 Jan 2019 12:57:09 -0800
> From: Diedre Conkling <diedre08 at gmail.com>
> To: libs-or <libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us>
> Subject: Re: [Libs-Or] Fine Free Libraries
> Message-ID:
>         <
> CAF-idW5O4S8xhb7eMEdpDQSfbaAF_Ncb3EfUA3fzKOxMChT9xQ at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
>
> 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>
> wrote:
>
> > 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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