The Nitty Gritty
Q: Why are you getting rid of overdue fines?
A: In recent years, public libraries have come to recognize fines as a barrier to access. For people who can afford them, late fines are too small to make a difference. For those who struggle financially, a fine balance becomes a reason to be wary of checking out materials and may prevent the patron from coming back at all. Simply put, public libraries believe that no one should be denied access to the library or its collection because of an inability to pay.
A. In New Richmond, our overdue fines have never been a part of our operating budget. We have always put these fines into our building fund. By going fine free, we are disconnecting our building project from any penalty.
Patrons who still wish to support our building project are welcome to donate any money they might have spent on late fines toward our building fund if they desire, but we will never limit library access to them if they are unable to, or choose not to do so. We would much rather accept a voluntary donation from someone who can afford it than see someone stop using the library's resources just because they kept their items a bit too long.
A: No. Standard due dates still apply. Library users will still be charged replacement costs for items that are lost or damaged. If you keep an item too long, it will still go to billed status and a replacement charge will show up on your account. But as always, that charge disappears when you return the item in good condition. While a replacement charge exists on your account, you will be blocked from checking out additional items until the charges are paid or the items are returned.
A. Yes. There are a few important exceptions.
1. Any items that are checked out by New Richmond Library Cardholders at other MORE Libraries may still accrue overdue fines.
2. We still have minimal overdue fines on a few of our high-demand items. These include equipment such as projectors and hotspots, and Lucky Day items.
3. Items that have been checked out for longer than their maximum loan period will be charged to your account. As always, when the item is returned in good condition, that charge will be waived.
A. If an item is overdue for 28 days, it will be considered lost and a replacement cost will be charged to your account. If the item is returned to the library, those fines will be waived.
Additionally, if an item is damaged or a part is missing from an item when it is returned, you may still be charged.
A. Most existing fines will be waived and your card will be cleared. Any existing charges for lost or damaged items will still be the responsibility of the cardholder. However, if those items are returned to us in good condition, we will happily waive any fines associated with them. Please feel free to stop in and talk to us if you don’t see your fines disappear or you have questions about charges on your account.
A. We are fortunate to have a generous community! The best way to support the library right now is to make donations to our Library Building Project. We have a variety of ways to do that from our website or by stopping in to the library. If you are interested in supporting in other ways, stop by and talk to us!
Going Fine Free Myths & Facts
Myth: People won’t return their Library items.
Fact: Studies of public libraries that have gone fine free show that there was no drastic increase in late returns, and in some cases saw a drop in rate of late returns. Patrons will still receive reminder notices, and are still responsible for
returning their items.
Myth: The Library relies on fines as a revenue source.
Fact: Our overdue fees have never been a part of our operating revenue. All fines accrued at the New Richmond Public Library have always gone into supporting our building project. Over the years, we have seen a drastic reduction in the amount of fines we bring in. We believe that we can better serve our patrons and still promote our building project by removing this barrier.
Myth: I’ll have to wait longer for my holds.
Fact: Of the libraries studied that have implemented a fine free model, there was no marked increase in hold wait times or gaps in collections.