Starting June 1st, 2019, we will no longer charge “overdue” fines for library materials that are returned late. Your past overdue fines will also disappear!
Going “Fine-Free” Frequently Asked Questions
What are Fines?
Fines, or “overdue” fines, are charged for library items that are returned late.
Check out time and overdue fines vary between libraries.
At Marshall, fines for items returned late were 15 cents per day for books, magazines, and cds, and 50 cents per day for dvds and video games. Now there are NO overdue fines at Marshall.
Why Fine Free?
- We don’t get much income from overdue fines; they represent less than 1% of our budget.
- What little we lose monetarily will be made up for in good will.
- We incur expenses to collect overdue fines, including staff time and postage.
- Fines disproportionately affect low-income families and create a barrier to using the library.
- Fear of fines stops people from checking out books, or limits the number they check out.
- Studies have shown that punishing people with fines doesn’t actually teach them to return things on time.
- Statistics tell us that libraries which eliminate fines see increased customer registration and circulation.
- Research shows that there is no difference in overdue rates between libraries which charge fines and libraries that don’t charge fines. The percentage of items returned late is the same.
All my fines will be gone?
Only the overdue (late) charges from Marshall Library will disappear. Lost and damaged charges won’t.
Items checked out at other libraries might still accrue overdue fines.
Will there still be fines for damaged items?
Yes, we will still charge for damaged items. Just like before, if you accidentally tore, broke, scribbled on, or soaked an item, we may charge a fee. Just like before, it may be a small fee to repair an item, or we may charge the full replacement price for an item that is too damaged to use. Past damage charges on your account will not go away.
Does this mean anyone can keep a library item forever?
No. Just like before, books and kindles can be checked out for a month at a time, while magazines and cds are two weeks, and dvds and video games are one week. Just like before, if you keep library materials for too long, they become “lost.”
We will still charge for lost items. Past lost charges on your account will not go away.
Just like before, if you return a lost item within one month from the date it was set to lost in LINKcat, you may be eligible for a refund, if the item is valued at or above $15.00. (Refunds will NOT be given for $14.99 or less.)
Will you still charge for copying, printing, and faxing?
What about the $10 rule?
This rule still stands. At our library, once you reach $10 or more in fines or fees, all fines must be paid in full. In addition, all members of a household will be blocked from checking out or using a computer once there are $10 or more in fines or fees. Putting a cap on the amount owed keeps your fines/fees manageable. Including others living in the same residence prevents someone from misusing some else's card to avoid paying their own fines/fees.
What about items I check out from other libraries?
If you order items from another library but check them out at the Marshall library, you will not be charged fines. If you go to a different library which still charges fines, and check items out at that location, you will be charged fines for overdue items. We can’t waive these fines.
Can I still give you money?
Yes! You’re welcome to donate spare change if you’re feeling guilty about returning something late. However, we’d rather you feel good about using the library, not guilty! If you really want to help us, please join the Friends of the Library. The Friends are a group of volunteers who put on fundraisers throughout the year, including a bake sale, dog wash, book sale, and trivia night.
Can I get a refund for fines I’ve paid in the past?
Will my taxes increase because the library is going fine-free?
What if my fines don’t disappear?
If after June 1st, 2019, you still have fines on your library account, there may be several reasons:
- the charges are for lost or damaged items (you still have to pay these)
- you are not a Marshall Library patron
- you visited another library and checked items out there; these may accrue fines
- our computer system goofed (please contact us)
Are other libraries doing this?
Yes! Many libraries across the U.S. are going fine-free. In Wisconsin, Sauk Prairie, Prairie du Sac, Sun Prairie, Verona, La Crosse, Spring Green, Fitchburg, and other libraries are also fine-free.
To learn more, you can also click these links:
The American Library Association Resolution on Fines.
A TED Talk on going Fine Free by Dawn Wacek from La Crosse Public Library.
An article on how and why Sun Prairie Public Library has gone fine-free.