EBRPL is joining many peer libraries across the country to further our commitment to providing access for all and being a place that inspires lifelong learning and personal economic advancement. Our new fine-free policy supports the Library’s Mission to 'provide access and connect people to information, resources, materials, technology, and experiences to make a positive difference in their lives.'
The Library will continue to set return dates for materials and send reminders for items not checked back in or renewed by those dates. Patrons will still be held responsible for lost or damaged items.
What is the difference between a Fine and a Fee?
Overdue fines were the daily charges applied to items not returned by their specified due date. These are the fines that will no longer be charged to patrons. Fees represent the charges applied for lost, damaged, or unreturned materials and are still in effect. For example, an item long unreturned will be considered lost, and the cost of the book charged to the patron account. This can lead to a library card being blocked until the item is returned.
What was the reasoning behind this decision?
The time it takes staff to process payments does not recoup itself in what is collected annually; library operations and collections are supported by the generous support of the East Baton Rouge Parish residents through our millage. This will also reduce negative interactions between staff and card holders, upholding our commitment to being a welcoming space for all. Additionally, research has shown that fines are an economic barrier that impacts the ability of people to use the library. The American Library Association supports the elimination of late fines when possible for libraries.
What is the incentive to bring the book back? Won't this take longer for me to get the books I want?
Other peer libraries do not report extended wait times. Research has shown a fine will not incentivize a person to return a book more quickly - if they want to finish the book they are going to keep it until they do. In reality what fines do is create a barrier for those of lower socioeconomic status from signing up for a library card to begin with. Those who lack reliable transportation, housing, or income might hesitate to use the library due to the fear of potential fines.
If an item is not brought back, after a designated period of time the responsible party will be charged for the full list price of the item, as it is still property of the library.
What about Food for Fines?
We are working on modifying the program for item fees, to be able to continue the partnership with the Greater Baton Rouge Food bank.
Is this temporary or permanent?
While the Library Board could vote to reinstate late fines, the intention is that this is permanent. More details on our new fine-free policy can be found here, under "Fines & Other Charges".
Doing Fine(s)? | Fines & Fees (Library Journal)
The End of Overdue Fines? (Public Libraries Online)
Are Fines Effective? (Bowling Green State University)
Fine Free Map (Urban Libraries Council)