Fines, Overdues and Budgets (2/8/16)

On August 2, #auslibchat covered the topic of Fines, Overdues & Budgets. We explored lots of issues including: our personal and professional experiences of fines; different practices across libraries; and whether fines are ever effective for overdues.

auslibchat_02_AUG2016_twitterThe questions we asked were:

Q1. Are you ever fined when using libraries? How does your experience reflect your patrons’ experience of fines?

Q2. What does your library do? What kind of fines do you charge your patrons?

Q3. Why charge fines? Is it a significant revenue stream? Is it included in your annual budget?
Q4. Studies show mixed results on the impact that fines actually have on circulation. What are your thoughts?
Q5. City of Sydney Libraries are trailing 12 months of no fines. What do you think? What are equitable alternatives to fines?


To get you thinking:

Fines for ‘overdue’ items.  Despite the adherence of many libraries to fines regimes, there is still no researched evidence that fining is more effective than any other mechanism used to encourage borrowers to return items by the date a library has arbitrarily set for their return. However there is evidence that, in practice, accumulated fines may discourage the borrower from ever returning an item; of parents stopping their children from using or borrowing from a library because of fines incurred by them; and of pensioners and others in strained circumstances not being able to pay them or wanting to risk being fined for a memory lapse. There is also evidence of affluent borrowers being willing to pay overdue fines to retain an item the return of which has been requested for another user. Fines may discomfort library staff and increase security risks for them. They do nothing for the otherwise positive image of libraries and their staff. More libraries seem to be not fining if they can persuade their councils of its ineffectiveness and substantial negatives. Instead they are using their library management systems, emailing and text messaging to users to minimise the staff costs of reminding users to renew online, by phone or in person, or to return items borrowed.

from Bundy, A. (2005). “Time to free public libraries?”. Aplis, vol. 18, no. 4, pp129-130.

For your reference:

Fines – City of Sydney. Accessed 18th July 2016,

Join us next time on Tuesday 6th September 2016 for Part 1 of our Professional Development discussion series which will explore New opportunities and mentors.