Not Fine

And it’s not through fines:

Late fines weren’t very effective at getting people to return materials, officials said.

Instead, patrons seem to be more motivated to return items to avoid replacement costs and losing borrowing privileges than they were to avert accumulating fees, officials said.

Late fees were a drain on library resources, and collecting them did not promote a good relationship with patrons, said Tim Kambitsch, the executive director of the Dayton Metro Library.

“A long time ago, the overdue fines stopped having an impact on people’s timeliness of returning items,” he said. “What’s really made a big difference is that we’ve been more aggressive in how people’s borrowing privileges get limited with the new policy if they don’t return items.”

There’s a late episode of the Cosby Show where one of the replacement kids broke the rules and accepted the punishment as the cost of doing so. Cliff and Claire had to explain that it wasn’t meant to be transactional like that.

I thought about that when reading this. Apart from actually going after their ability to check out library books, a lot of people can probably internalize fines as a sort of rental fee. Whereas this makes them feel like they are doing something wrong, and the inability to rent other things out reinforces this fact. This makes it non-transactional.

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6 thoughts on “Not Fine

  1. Universities back in the 1970s figured out how to get students to pay their long overdue parking fines: no transcripts until the fines are paid. I knew a guy who was trying desperately to scrounge up $300 in 1976 to pay his fines so he could get transcripts to potential employers.

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    • We put a block on enrolling for the next semester if there are unpaid fees, or if a student is holding a library book hostage (I don’t think fines are much of a thing but the library does want their books back. I’ve heard horror stories about students dropping out KEEPING some expensive books and telling the library that they can basically go fish themselves, there’s nothing they can do).

      They also block enrolling for unpaid parking tickets; I understand some students have hundreds of dollars of them for things like parking in non-spots and in spots reserved for the disabled.

      I dunno. I suppose if you’re socialized as a rule-follower (like I was) you have a horror of things like accruing fines and you make an effort to get stuff back on time.

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  2. However, items not returned after 21 days overdue are considered lost and the library adds a charge to the borrower’s account to replace the materials.

    After 35 days overdue, the library adds a $10 processing fee to the replacement costs, and the borrower’s account is turned over to a collection agency.

    So, while they added a grace period, they in fact dramatically increased the late fees?

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  3. My local library keeps track of fines and ends borrowing privileges when they reach $10. They’re always payable online. It works pretty well.

    Though mostly I rent e-books these days, and they self-expire automatically.

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