Library's elimination of overdue fines increases book returns

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It becomes much easier to return slightly late books when you don’t have to worry about this guy.



There is a great TED talk about this topic: Dawn Wacek, “A Librarian’s Case Against Overdue Book Fines”


So I wonder how many Republicans consider the Library a “Socialist” construct. Just saying…

Social Programs are NOT Socialism.


Glenn Baxter :heart::heart::heart:


My city library changed from a policy where you could carry overdue fines of up to $9.99 and still use your card (fines were in ten cent increments so realistically this would be $9.90) to a policy where if you had one measly cent due your card was useless. This meant that if you accidentally missed renewing one book, you had to drag your ass to the library, return the offending late items, and pay your fee. And if you didn’t have time to do that, well, the fees just kept getting higher because you couldn’t renew your other items anymore, and the fees for videos were a dollar per day, so it could get high.


I’d be much more worried about this guy:


In the “Olden Days” of Toronto Public Library, there was actually someone called “The book collector” who would go to people’s houses to collect long overdue items. Not a job I would have wanted.


My library has a thing every few month where you buy toiletries and canned food for the homeless instead of fines.


Pretty sure several libraries have contracts out on me by now.


Looking at the rough numbers: The increased number of returns results in a loss of about $88 per book returned versus the fines they collected. That’s a major net loss as I see it.

Increase of about 750 books returned per month and a projected loss of income of $800,000 to $1,000,000

You can buy one hell of a lot of books for 800 grand, let alone a million.

I expect in the long run the number of non-returned books will increase but will await actual facts. I do expect net costs/losses to significantly increase.

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There’s a lot more to the discussion around late fees than the cost of books versus income from fines ( like the fact that thinking about library access in terms of income is usually a poor frame). The head of the Cleveland Public Library lays out the case for the change in a good talk from last year. Lots of libraries have gone late fee free and it generally results in a small loss in income and a massive increase in library utilization. My local library has capped general late fees at $1.00 for years and it has contributed to a very strong library system.


Except there was not really a loss of income because those fines/fees weren’t being paid, and there was no realistic expectation that they would be.

Net benefit to community is 750 books re-entering circulation.


My library has gone fine-free and added automatic renewals. I basically take books back when I’ve read them and I feel like it. I’m glad that more people feel good about using the library. It’s nice to get books back in circulation. I’m not sure what to use as an incentive to do so in a timely manner.


Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

You might have read that somewhere (Oscar Wilde - The Picture of Dorian Gray), if you saw libraries as something other than just a income source.


You’re right! Now the Chicago Public Library will never get bought out by a private equity firm! /s


There could always be a very unfriendly takeover by whatever Eric Prince’s outfit is called now.


not sure about a “timely” manner, but needing to return your books before getting more is a pretty good incentive for getting things back when you’re done.

people who use a library once are going to want to use it again

if the library really wanted to make money they should just not let out any books at all. or, maybe just as good, charge people for every book they don’t take out. the longer you don’t use the library the more you have to pay to start.

or maybe, it’s not about making money at all but about creating an informed and educated citizenry… :thinking:

now to make public transportation fee free as well.

[eta] ive had several friends get library cards for their kids… just so everyone in the family has a way to check out books again after one too many books were returned late


My library has a 100 item limit per card holder. I could really ruin the availability of newer fiction if I wanted to.