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

Edith Fuller efuller at teleport.com
Sat Jan 26 16:10:24 PST 2019


This email pulls up a sharp memory for me.  In the mid-ish 90s, there was a short time when I was temporarily subbing as a media specialist in local high schools and working one short evening shift a week in the local public library.  I remember conversations with high school students who were not able to check out books from the local public library, because of fines owned.  It sure kept them out of the branches!  And the main library downtown!  And unable to make use of the larger body of resources available to them in the public library, both downtown and in the branches.

 

Cheers.  Edith.

 

From: Libs-Or <libs-or-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us> On Behalf Of John Robert Mead
Sent: Saturday, January 26, 2019 3:03 PM
To: libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us
Subject: Re: [Libs-Or] Libs-Or Digest, Vol 191, Issue 30

 

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 <mailto: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)


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Message: 1
Date: Fri, 25 Jan 2019 12:01:44 -0800
From: "Julie Retherford" <julie at chetcolibrary.org <mailto:julie at chetcolibrary.org> >
To: "'Rita J Radford'" <riddlecitylibrary at gmail.com <mailto:riddlecitylibrary at gmail.com> >,
        <Libs-Or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us <mailto:Libs-Or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us> >
Subject: Re: [Libs-Or] Fine Free Libraries
Message-ID: <031d01d4b4e8$cc576940$65063bc0$@chetcolibrary.org <http://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 <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 <mailto:diedre08 at gmail.com> >; libs-or at listsmart. osl. state. or. us <libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us <mailto: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 <mailto:diedre08 at gmail.com> > diedre08 at gmail.com <mailto: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 <mailto:diedre08 at gmail.com> > diedre08 at gmail.com <mailto: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 <mailto:diedre08 at gmail.com> >
To: libs-or <libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us <mailto:libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us> >
Subject: Re: [Libs-Or] Fine Free Libraries
Message-ID:
        <CAF-idW5O4S8xhb7eMEdpDQSfbaAF_Ncb3EfUA3fzKOxMChT9xQ at mail.gmail.com <mailto: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 <mailto: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 <mailto: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 <mailto:diedre08 at gmail.com> * <diedre08 at gmail.com <mailto: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 <mailto:diedre08 at gmail.com> * <diedre08 at gmail.com <mailto: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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