Our Library is now Fine Free!
One of the most heart-breaking things I have witnessed while working in a library is related to late fees. A mom is told she needs to pay because her children checked out a lot of books and they returned them late. She turns to her kids who are excitedly waiting to get into the stacks and pick out some more. She says, “Well, we’re never coming back here again!” and they leave. Every time this has happened, I’ve watched those children’s faces fall as they shuffle out of the library.
This goes against the very purpose of libraries. We are here to serve our patrons, no matter your age, background, education, or financial status. The last thing we want to do is discourage our patrons from checking out our materials. We understand that life happens and there are times when you take extra long to finish a book, someone in your family is sick, or you accidentally scoot a DVD under the driver’s seat of your car.
Here are some questions you may have about going fine free:
Who does this benefit? Studies have shown that those who depend on the library the most end up paying the biggest chunk of the late fees, and that is certainly true for the American Fork Library. The list below shows examples of real patrons we have helped over the past month. They would ordinarily owe the library money for turning their materials in late.
- A grandmother who wasn’t able to make it to the library one month because her ride fell through
- A family with young children who left a stack of books in their closet under some toys
- A young man from the Developmental Center who loves movies and checks out stacks of them
- A high school student who needs to read a classic over the summer
- A mom whose kid has a hard time reading and needs to take his time
Does this mean I’ll need to wait longer for my holds? Our librarians keep a close eye on materials that are in high demand or suddenly acquire long waiting lists. When that happens, we simply buy more copies. We plan on providing the same service moving forward. We will be paying attention and adapting as we go.
Won’t people keep their library books forever? It has always been the case that some of our items get checked out and we never see them again. Other libraries have found that that eliminating fines encourages people to return their overdue materials since no one is charging them for extra time. However, if something is lost or never returned, the patron still needs to pay for us to replace it.
If you have more questions, check out our FAQs here. It includes links to some excellent articles and studies on this subject. My staff and I are also ready and willing to help. I look forward to seeing you soon!
Casandria Crane, Library Director