[Michlib-l] Materials Recovery/Fine Collection Options

Stanczak, Cindy cstanczak at albionlibrary.org
Thu Feb 13 13:07:16 EST 2014


Let me preempt my response by saying my questions/suggestions are mostly
preventative measures.

First, the questions.  What type of item limit do you have in place right
now?  For example, we offer unlimited book check-outs, but only 10 total
DVDs (including up to 2 Blu-rays) and one video game at a time, per card.
 Those were our high-demand, kind of "in danger of being pawned" items.

Also, at what amount of fines do you stop your patrons from being able to
check-out any more items?  For example, we stop our patrons at a total
fine/fee of $5.00.  However, if they pay it down below that limit (even
$4.99), they are free to check-out more items.  However, we only charge
$0.10/day per item in overdue fines, regardless of format, with a per item
cap of $3.00.  We find that with our community, higher fines discouraged
late returns because the totals were too overwhelming.  Side note: our
items go to "Billed" status at 30 days.  If they're returned in good
condition, we check them in and they revert to "overdue."

It may be that if you don't have these policies in place, or if your item
limit or fine limit is higher, it may be time to change them, very publicly
and openly, with a strong patron education element.  Big signs that say
something to the effect of: "Due to a significant rise in items not being
returned, we are changing our circulation policy in the following ways:....
 We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but feel that this new
policy is in keeping with our desire to be good stewards of your tax

My last suggestions is that during the month of December, we offer a "Food
for Fines" program.  During the entire month, we accept shelf-stable
canned/boxed/bottled items in lieu of payment on fines at 1 item per fine
line item (could be anything from $0.10 to $3.00).  All the food is donated
to the local food pantry, which is great publicity for us and helps the
community as a whole.  We see a big rise in patrons bringing back
overdue/billed items along with food items, hoping to return them and pay
them off at the same time.

Hope this helps.  Good luck!

For more information, please call 517-629-3993 or visit us at 501 S.
Superior Street in downtown Albion.  Albion District Library: Transforming
Minds, Changing Lives.  Online at www.albionlibrary.org, or find us on

Cynthia Stanczak
Adult & Teen Services Librarian
Albion District Library
501 S. Superior St.
Albion, MI  49224
(517) 629-3993

On Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 12:26 PM, LTDL <lyonslib at hotmail.com> wrote:

> Hi all,
> We're having a major issue at our library with unreturned materials and
> collecting fines from patrons. At the moment, we're just making phone calls
> and sending letters to patrons, which obviously aren't the most effective
> options at getting our books or our money back. Does anyone here recommend
> some relatively inexpensive solutions to this problem?
> Thank you for your time,
> Allison Ferguson
> Director
> Lyons Township District Library
> (989) 855-3414
> lyonslib at hotmail.com
> _______________________________________________
> Michlib-l mailing list
> Michlib-l at lists.mcls.org
> http://lists.mlcnet.org/mailman/listinfo/michlib-l
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