HEPBURN LIBRARY OF NORFOLK GOING FINE FREE
FINES AND FEES POLICY
A public library exists to serve the community and is based on the concept of sharing resources. When one person violates that principle by retaining materials beyond the established limits, that person takes unfair advantage of the community as a whole. Patrons are encouraged to follow lending loan periods and return materials on time. The Hepburn Library of Norfolk agrees with the American Library Association policy statement that the “imposition of monetary library fines creates a barrier to the provision of library and information services.”
WHY HAVE WE GONE FINE FREE?
It’s good for our community! Our community is stronger and healthier when people have access to programs, services, and materials they need to pursue their educational, career, family, and life goals. Libraries are a place open to anyone and everyone. We hope this will encourage prior users to come back to the library and attract new users to experience our offerings.
It’s good for our relationships. When you walk through our doors, we want to do our best to help you, not badger you about a late fee. Going fine free makes a trip to the library more pleasant for both you and our staff. Libraries that have adopted fine-free policies found that:
- Library card registrations increased.
- Borrowing of materials increased.
- More library items were returned.
- Students returned to the library to use homework resources.
- Staff time was redirected from fines-handling to patron-focused services.
HAVE OTHER LIBRARY ELIMINATED LATE FINES?
Yes! In the U.S., almost 500 libraries have adopted fine free policies, and the number is growing every day. This number includes Potsdam, Madrid and Canton in recent years.
WON’T LATE FINES KEEP PEOPLE FROM RETURNING ITEMS ON TIME?
Late fines are not effective. Studies have shown that small fines have no impact on return rates. Once someone has a late fine, they are less likely to visit the library again. Libraries who have removed late fees report few adverse effects on material return rates. The public library model is based upon a trusting relationship between borrowers and a valued community resource. Library staff trusts that borrowers will return items on time, so others may use them. Other libraries have experienced an increase in return rates after the adoption of fine free policies.
WILL THERE STILL BE DUE DATES?
Yes. The library still has a set time limit for materials to be borrowed and we expect items to be returned on time. Be respectful of your fellow library users who may be waiting for items to be returned. Bring back materials when they are due so that everyone has equal access to our collections.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I HAVE OUTSTANDING FINES ON MY ACCOUNT?
If you have outstanding fines accrued on your NCLS Library Card account, stop in and we will help you clear them. If you have charges from lost or damaged material, please speak with us and we will work with you to find an equitable solution.
WHAT HAPPENS IF SOMEONE DOESN’T RETURN THEIR ITEMS?
If items are returned after that date, they will be considered late and must be renewed or returned before additional items are checked out. Borrowing privileges at the Hepburn Library of Norfolk will be suspended until the overdue items are returned. If items are overdue by 45-days, patrons will be charged for the replacement cost of the item. Patrons will be sent overdue reminders asking them to return the items once the item is late and periodically afterwards until the 45-day charge for the item occurs.
This policy applies to Hepburn Library of Norfolk-owned material only. Materials borrowed via NCLS are still subject to fines. Fines are set by the lending library. If an item is borrowed from a library that still imposes fines, you will be assessed that late fine. The Hepburn Library of Norfolk is not charging late fines on items we own or send to other NCLS Libraries
HOW WILL THIS AFFECT THE LIBRARY’S BUDGET?
While the Library is always carefully watching its bottom line, any loss of overdue fine revenue is tiny compared with the good this new policy will do for the community. Overdue fines account for less than 0.7% of the library’s overall income and going fine free will not significantly impact the budget moving forward. In addition, due to the rise in electronic materials (which do not accrue late fines) and other factors, fines are not a sustainable form of revenue for the library. With auto-renew, fines are impacted by items being automatically renewed. Above all, it’s worth it to us to forgo potential funds from fines to remove barriers to Library use.
You can view the amended circulation policy by clicking here: Circulation policy