Frequently Asked Questions About Going Fine-free

What does going “fine-free” mean?

Fine-free means that there won’t be late charges on most materials. Fines will continue to be charged on Inter-library loan materials and technology (such as eReaders).

 

What’s the difference between fines and fees?

Fines are charged when an item is late. Fees are costs that are assessed when materials are lost or damaged. Fees will continue to be assessed when materials are not returned or have been returned damaged.

 

Why eliminate fines?

Research shows that fines are not effective in encouraging the return of materials, but instead fines can become a barrier to people using the library.

 

Will eliminating fines stop people from returning their books?

Studies have shown that late fines are not effective and actually stop people from using or returning to the library. Libraries who have adopted fine-free policies have reported few problems and increased usage.

 

Are there still due dates on items?

Yes, materials will have due dates and patrons are expected to return materials in a timely manner as others are eagerly waiting to enjoy the book.

 

What happens if I have overdue books?

You will be notified if you have overdue items. If the items are not returned within 10 days, you will not be able to check out more items until the overdue materials are returned.

 

What if my card currently has late fines on it?

Existing overdue fines have been waived. However, fees for lost or damaged books have not been waived; those charges still may appear on your account.

 

What if items are not returned?

If items aren’t returned by their due date, they are considered overdue. If items are long overdue, patrons will be charged the replacement cost. Patrons will be contacted multiple times, explaining library policy that after 8 weeks, the patron will be sent to state set-off for the item’s cost plus a $10 processing fee. The patron’s account will be frozen until the account is settled.

 

What about hold times? Will I have to wait longer for my item?

Fine-free libraries report similar return rates. In addition, WPL runs reports to let us know if we need to order additional copies of popular items.

 

Don’t overdue fines generate revenue for the library?

Fine revenue makes up a very small part of the library’s budget. In addition, the good that this policy will do for the community cannot be measured.