MFPL Goes Fine-Free

At their December board meeting, the library trustees unanimously approved going fine-free on a six-month trial basis starting Jan 1, 2020.

 

Daily late fees will be eliminated.  Borrowers will simply be charged full replacement value for items overdue by 90 days. 

 

Many libraries nationwide, including several nearby, are fine-free.  Studies show that fines do more to keep people away from the library than to actually bring materials back.  Going fine-free improves access, especially for children, and improves the image of the library.  Libraries that have gone fine-free report very little trouble with unreturned materials.

 

Fine Free FAQs:

 

 

What does fine-free mean?

It means just what it says.  With very little exception, items borrowed from the Millburn Free Public Library will not accrue daily overdue charges if they are returned late.  Exceptions are noted at the end of this FAQ list. 

 

Why the change?

Fines are barriers to access, particularly for children and for people with limited means.  Eliminating daily overdue fines means users will not lose access to their library and the resources they want and need just because of a late return.  By eliminating overdue fines, the MFPL is also taking a big step toward meeting its strategic goal of delivering excellent library service in a helpful and fair manner.  Finally, eliminating fine collection will allow staff to focus on other service-related tasks while also giving you one less thing to worry about.  

 

Are there still due dates?

Yes, items will still have due dates and they will be printed on your checkout receipt.  Please return any items that you borrow by their due dates so that others will be able to borrow them. 

 

What will motivate people to return library items if there are no fines?

Borrowers will be billed full replacement value for any items that are 90+ days overdue.  Also, the checkout system will block an account with 10 or more overdue items. 

 

What if I have some overdue items at home that are really late?

Amnesty for existing fines is a part of the program, as long as the items are from the Millburn Library.  If you have a book, DVD, or other item that is long overdue, please bring it back and we will waive the charges associated with that item. 

 

What if I have overdue fines on my account from previous transactions?

Come to the circulation desk with your library card and we will review your account with you.  If there are overdue charges on your account for Millburn Library items, we will waive them for you.  If you don’t know where your library card is, come with your ID (such as your NJ driver’s license) and we will access your account, waive any eligible charges, and issue you a replacement card. 

 

Won’t eliminating overdue fines hurt the library’s budget?

Overdue fines currently amount to about 0.4% of the Millburn Library’s operating budget.  The library will be able to adjust its spending with little to no impact on the operation or on library services. 

 

What items still have overdue fines?

There are only three items that will continue to accrue overdue fines:  museum passes, iPads, and Wi-Fi hotspots.  Overdue fines will still be levied for these items because they are high demand or because other patrons depend on their prompt return.