Spring Blog Post 1

The library I worked at from 2016 to this past summer recently changed from issuing fines to going fine free. As such, my interest was piqued when I watched “Eliminating Library Fines: Improving Community Access, Equity and Usage”, especially because I returned to work at the Ilsley after this decision had already been made, and therefore wasn’t present as the change was being made. It was interesting to see the discourses that the presenters anticipated having to combat, but if I hadn’t already been firmly in favor of getting rid of fines, they would have convinced me. One thing I was pleased to see the presenters bring up in this webinar was the fact that it is hardly a better experience for the desk worker who has to ask for the fine than for the patron who has to pay it. Over the years, I have had to tell so many people about their fines, and although it was usually less than a dollar, it could still sour an otherwise pleasant transaction. Since the money earned through fines is negligible compared to the cost of running a library, Mark Fink and Peter Bromberg concluded that it would actually save money by saving the time that library workers had to spend managing fines. They presented several alternative options, among which I recognized the Ilsley’s solution, which was to allow for a certain number of renewals and then bar the patron from checking anything out until they either return the book or pay for the cost of a replacement. If the patron can produce the book, however late, they don’t have to pay anything. The library’s official wording is, “Patrons are responsible for replacing items that are lost or damaged beyond use. Patrons’ borrowing privileges may be suspended for unreturned items.” Since the library patrons are already familiar with the concept of paying for a book they lost, I encountered no public pushback over this policy. Many patrons, especially those with small children, were visibly relieved when I told them halfway through pulling out their wallet, that they could simply return a book the following week. Overall, I think these policy changes to remove fines are positive in terms of making a library a more equitable and enjoyable space.