Fine to charge fines? Participate in my Poll - please

Readers - I have a question for you. Feel free to email your comments, or to comment on this post. I'd really like to know how you react to library fines. If you know that your late books are not going to cost you any money, are you more likely to bring them back? More likely to use the library again or often?

Fines feel to me like a slap on the palm with the teacher's ruler -- yeah, it can be motivating, but lots of other things are more so and it causes its own issues and ignores an awful lot. But maybe I'm just weird. How do YOU feel about library fines? Fort Vancouver Regional Library is making a policy decision on this issue. As an employee, I'd like to know what my readers from across the country think about this.


Sheldon said...

The libraries here are pretty modern; you can renew your books online, receive alerts when books are close to being due and check the exact date that books are due back.
Self reservation stations, receipts - quite a change from previous systems but a welcome one!

With the modern systems, there's really no excuse for having an overdue book as you'd have to put quite some effort into doing so.
Unless your sick for a few days, can't get to the library and end up paying a 30 cent fine; other than that, there's no excuse.

Without a modern system?
I'd bring in the books whenever, regardless of whether there was a fine or not.
I'm simply not going to rush to return a book just because its overdue nor whenever I next pass by the library although it would certainly be nice if there weren't any fines; it fits in with my mentality rather nicely.

I wonder, how much do libraries make in fines anyway?
It seems like, as you said, "a slap on the palm" and I've always wondered, is it enough for the libraries to actually make use of or is it supposed to be the incentive for returning books on time?
Regardless of the reason, if the fines were upped to a dollar a day, there'd be a huge improvement, both in the amount of money available for libraries and the incentive to return books on time!

By the way Stephanie, you write very well! I spent nearly twenty minutes just browsing through all of your older entries =]


Dogwood Diarist said...

Not that my vote matters, being American, but I am definitely pro-fines. Yeah, it sucks to have overdue books with fines accruing, but that shouldn't happen to the responsible library user, and even if it does, the penalty cannot exceed the cost of the book, or at least it shouldn't. At our library, you have to pay a maximum fine of $5.00, plus the cost of the book, if you lose it. If that's too draconian, how bout just the cost of the book?

The problem with a no-fine policy is that library books will never be available because people will not bother to return them. I'm a very responsible library user -- have never had a fine -- but I know that if there weren't a fine, I'd be very lax about getting those books back because it is almost always inconvenient for me to return them. Fines are an incentive to get those books back, so others can read them. I have been frustrated countless times by having to wait for returns or transfers from other libraries. Also, a no fine policy allows people to steal books if they're willing not to return to the library. And there are ways to help people who have a problem with deadlines -- make the maximum penalty not too stiff, or make books renewable over the phone, or grant extensions over the phone.

That's my two cents.

Stephanie said...

This is really interesting!

Believe it or not, people DO return their books, mostly on time, and as a rule, regardless of how long since losing a book (in other words, with fines, you've bought the thing by now) they still bring 'em back.

Verrry interesting ...