[Libs-Or] elimination of late fees

Liz Paulus LizP at wccls.org
Tue Jun 14 13:34:03 PDT 2016

To Linden and the list:

This is an always-interesting topic for those looking to make the library as welcoming as possible. 

Another approach used locally is across the river at Fort Vancouver Regional Library.
Some years ago they switched to a no-fines policy, with accounts blocked for $25.00 or more in considered-lost items and other fees. It's been a while since I spent time FVLR, but my recollection is that after a time of getting used to the new arrangement, folks thought it was fair and less annoying, while offering enough flexibility to accommodate different patrons' needs.

See their current related policies here and here:
http://fvrl.org/library-cards > Overdue Bills and Fees
http://fvrl.org/library-privileges-policy > III Limitations on borrowing and Internet privileges

Best wishes with this discussion at your library, and I look forward to hearing more about others' experiences with this issue.

Liz Paulus
Web Services Librarian 
Cedar Mill Community Libraries
12505 NW Cornell Road Suite 13
Portland, OR 97229
503.644.0043 ext. 131
lizp at wccls.org

-----Original Message-----
From: Libs-Or [mailto:libs-or-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us] On Behalf Of Stephanie Chase
Sent: Wednesday, June 08, 2016 12:15 PM
To: libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us
Subject: [Libs-Or] elimination of late fees


I removed late fees at the last library I was at in our east, because the staff (and the majority of the Board) felt they were punitive and often kept the very people we most would like to come to the library from using our resources. The Board's only concern was purely fiscal -- they needed to replace the lost revenue -- and we were able to do so by restructuring and clarifying our out-of-town fees and offering a "conscience jar" at the desk for people who really wanted to pay something to assuage their guilt. I believe in the first year, the conscience jar made almost as much as we had made the previous year in fines!

We kept our communications the same with patrons, sending first and second notices and then a final notice, billing patrons for the cost of the book. For the six months before the switch, we kept track of how many of each notice we sent, and how many items we ultimately received back. We found that we sent more first notices without fines, but ended up receiving back twice as many actual items. 

Pushback, for us, was totally from patrons. Some saw fines as a way to not feel guilty; many of the comments were along the variety of "why would anyone bring anything back then?", or how getting rid of fines doesn't teach responsibility. You can see this already in the comments on the blog post about Multnomah removing children's fines (https://multcolib.org/blog/20160607/opening-new-doors-library-no-more-youth-fines). We simply said that we expected patrons to continue to uphold the social contract they agreed to when they signed up for their library cards, returning items in a timely fashion in order to make the greatest number of resources available to the greatest number of patrons, and that responsibility should not need a financial penalty in order to be taught.

I think this is an issue we all have interest in, and I bet many folks on the list would love to hear what you have discovered! Good luck.

Stephanie Chase | Director, Hillsboro Public Library City of Hillsboro, Oregon | Hillsboro Public Library

-----Original Message-----
From: Libs-Or [mailto:libs-or-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us] On Behalf Of libs-or-request at listsmart.osl.state.or.us
Sent: Wednesday, June 8, 2016 12:00 PM
To: libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us
Subject: Libs-Or Digest, Vol 160, Issue 13

Send Libs-Or mailing list submissions to
	libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us

To subscribe or unsubscribe via the World Wide Web, visit
or, via email, send a message with subject or body 'help' to
	libs-or-request at listsmart.osl.state.or.us

You can reach the person managing the list at
	libs-or-owner at listsmart.osl.state.or.us

When replying, please edit your Subject line so it is more specific than "Re: Contents of Libs-Or digest..."

You can examine full text of list messages in the relevant month's archive at:


Today's Topics:

   1. elimination of late fees (Linden How)
   2. Job Announcement: Temporary On-Call Adult Services Librarian
      (Ariel Yang)
   3. Answerland Advisory Committee meeting at Oregon State
      Library, June 16, 2016 (Jessica Rondema)
   4. Job Announcement: Youth Services Librarian (Full Time)
      (Ariel Yang)
   5. New Book at the State Library: The Heart of Librarianship
      (Tamara Ottum)
   6. Free Art Books for public schools and libraries! Place your
      order now with the Distribution to Underserved Communities
      Library Program (D.U.C.) (MaryKay Dahlgreen)


Message: 1
Date: Tue, 7 Jun 2016 12:51:47 -0700
From: Linden How <lhow at pnca.edu>
To: Libs-Or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us
Subject: [Libs-Or] elimination of late fees
	<CABa1aF=7jeWeWZ+ZQmVoYh8Ews296UHPGxPM+ENQL9P3D06NKA at mail.gmail.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"

Hi everyone,
We are considering doing away with general late fees at our library, and I wonder if any of you have some experience or knowledge to share about transitioning to a no-overdue-fine policy. Right now, the plan is to keep charging for lost (more than 30 days overdue) items and overdue ILLs and reserves, but to get rid of other late fees. We hope this change will reduce barriers for our students and promote greater usage and satisfaction.

I'd love to hear any general experiential information or see models/resources you'd like to share. We also have a few specific questions (please don't feel like you have to answer all of them!):

1. If you've transitioned to a no-overdue-fine policy, what was your rationale? How did you navigate this with your governing body?
2. Did you experience any push-back from boards, governing bodies, or even patrons?
3. What was your process in making this transition?
4. Do you handle communication with patrons about overdue items any differently?
5. If you have a no-overdue-fine policy, can you share its specifics?
6. Have you noticed any differences, for example, in circulation numbers or patron satisfaction?
7. What has and hasn't worked?

Thank you so much! We really appreciate your input.

Linden How
Library Assistant
Albert Solheim Library
Pacific Northwest College of Art
511 NW Broadway
Portland, OR 97209
Libs-Or mailing list
Libs-Or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us
Hosted by the Oregon State Library. The Library is not responsible for content.
Questions related to message content should be directed to list owner(s) or the sender of the message, by phone or email.
Technical questions? Call 503-378-8800.

More information about the Libs-Or mailing list