Friday, February 8, 2008

Fines Provide A Lot of Money

In December 2007, I wrote about a complaint that the Library System Board received about its fines for video recordings.

The library card member had returned some video recordings a few days late and was upset that he was charged $6 in late fees per item. He knew that he could renew them by phone, online or in-person at the library, but he said it was inconvenient for him to do that.

He suggested that the library system have a grace period, or that we charge lower rates for older materials, or that we lower fines.

After reviewing the issues, the Library System Board decided to keep its current fine rates for video recordings.

This decision was made for two reasons:

  1. Video recording fines provide about $52,000 in annual income for the library system. In our current funding climate, the library system cannot afford to lose $26,000 annually.
  2. Fines encourage the fast return of materials that are in high demand by our library card members.
Some public libraries in the U.S. have been able to eliminate all fines. It would be great if we could consider doing that too.

But the fact is overdue fines bring in more than $350,000 annually. Those dollars help the library system keep its doors open and provide more materials for everyone.