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Why did JDL go fine-free?
Fines do not encourage the on-time return of materials. What fines do is prevent access for patrons who cannot afford to pay for fines. At any given time, 4% of JDL’s patrons have their accounts blocked due to overdue fines. We wanted to remove as many barriers to access as possible, and fines represent a significant barrier to residents of lower socioeconomic status.
How does being fine-free affect the library’s budget?
To put it bluntly: It doesn’t. For the fiscal year 2020, revenue from fines represented .1% ($13,000) of JDL’s revenue. Additionally, the time cost allocated for staff interactions regarding overdue fines exceeds the overall cost of the fines themselves.
What happens when items are overdue?
Patrons are still responsible for returning materials. When materials are 30 days overdue, patrons will be charged the replacement cost for it. Accounts with lost/damaged fees totaling $10 or more will result in the patron’s account being blocked until the items are returned or paid for. This block also applies to access to digital materials. Once those items are returned, the entire bill is removed from the patron’s account.
Accounts owing more than $40 will be sent to a collection agency if the materials are not returned or paid for after 15 days from the billing date. This information is not reported to credit bureaus.
How does having lost or damaged item fees on my account affect my ability to use the library?
If the material is overdue for 30 days, a bill for the replacement cost is automatically placed on the patron’s account. Also, if something is returned damaged to the point that the library cannot repair it, a damaged charge will be placed on that patron’s account. If the fees total $10 or more, the patron will not be able to check out materials until these bills are paid.
However, anyone can come into our locations and use our computers, attend our programs, get answers to their questions, or just sit and read, regardless of what they may owe the library.