Library Makes Bold Move with No-Fine Policy
In September 2014, the Algonquin Area Public Library District (AAPLD) stopped charging their cardholders overdue fines. At the time, AAPLD was the only public library district in the area to go “Fine-Free.”
Previously, AAPLD cardholders were charged up to .50 each day an item was returned past its due date. However, the Library revised its Circulation of Library Materials policy so that there would be no charge when AAPLD cardholders returned an item late.
The announcement of the new No-Fine policy attracted the attention of several area media outlets, including the Editorial Board of the Northwest Herald, who applauded the move: “Showing their patrons a little forgiveness is a nice gesture, and we applaud the library’s willingness to adapt to a changing culture of busier schedules and more competition from online and streaming services” (“Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down,” September 6, 2014, Sec. A, page 7).
The Library did not view the traditional “fines for overdue materials” policy as an effective, customer-friendly incentive for cardholders to return their books on time. Also, credit card fees and staff time associated with processing overdue items reduced the amount of overdue fines collected to less than 1% of the Library’s operating budget.
Each item still has a due date. Cardholders are responsible for honoring the due date or renewing the item on the website, in person, or via a phone call to the Library. If an item is two weeks overdue, cardholders will receive a bill for the item and will not be able to check out any more items. Once the item is returned, the bill is removed from the cardholder’s account.
The No-Fine policy only applies to overdue items. AAPLD cardholders who have lost items or returned items that are damaged will be charged accordingly. View AAPLD’s Circulation of Library Materials for an outline of loan periods, limits, and applicable fines.
The Library understands that our cardholders have busy lives and can’t always return their library materials on time. Instead of focusing on fine collection, AAPLD chooses to focus on providing the materials, services, and programs that our community wants and needs.