The Hood River County Library District is fine-free for all patrons! This ensures that all patrons have access to library books and materials, which is our primary purpose as a public library.
We believe in equitable and free access for everyone.
- Everyone in our community should have access to library books, materials and services regardless of income.
- Going fine free is the right step in removing barriers to helping people use the public library.
- Late fines, even as little as 10 cents per day, are a burden on people who rely on library access the most.
- Some people avoid using the library when they can’t pay fines on overdue items.
Why go fine free?
- Our communities thrive when people have access to the programs, services, and materials they need to pursue their goals or interests. People should be able to use the library without worrying that they will be unable to pay fines for late materials.
- In the past 15 years, public libraries across the United States, and most recently in Oregon, have investigated the results of charging late fines for overdue items. Research has shown that late fines are not effective and have no impact on return rates. In fact, fines have the unintended consequence of preventing a community’s most vulnerable populations from using library services
- Library fines worsen existing inequities that disproportionately impact people of color and low-income communities. Read more from the Urban Libraries Council about how eliminating fines advances racial equity.
- Treats print and digital materials the same. Digital materials, including ebooks and audiobooks, do not accrue late fines.
- Library fines are a decreasing part of the overall budget. Historically, fines represent less than 0.9% of our total budget. Due to the growing popularity of digital materials, library revenue from overdue fines has been steadily declining in recent years.
Frequently Asked Questions
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I have current fines on my account. Are those being cleared?
Yes. All accounts will be cleared of overdue fines as of February 1, 2021. If you have questions about your account, please contact us at 541-386-2535 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Won’t I have to wait longer to get my holds because fines take away the incentive to return materials on time?
Most libraries that have gone fine free did not report an increase in later returns. In contrast, many report more materials are returned. If materials are not returned 28 days after the due date, patrons will be charged replacement costs.
Will there still be due dates?
Yes. Library materials will still have due dates. Items will renew automatically before they are due, as long as there are no holds on the items. You will receive a notice if items need to be returned to the library. Patrons will be charged a replacement cost for items that aren’t returned within 28 days of the due date. Replacement charges are cleared when the items are returned.
How does eliminating fines impact the library’s budget?
Library fines made up a very small part of the library’s budget. The library has collected less fines each year because of the rising popularity of digital materials (which don’t accrue fines). Historically, fines represent less than 0.9% of total budget. However, these fines can have a significant impact on a family. You’ve seen the big piles of books kids check out. If those books come back even a few days late, the fines add up fast. The last thing we want to do is discourage families from using the library.
I’ve always thought of paying my fines as my donation to the library. Can I still donate?
Yes. You can make your gift through the Hood River Library Foundation, which supports the Hood River County Library District.
What is the difference between a fine and a fee?
The library charged late fines on items returned after their due dates. The library will still charge some fees, such as for replacing lost items, and for some services such as printing and making copies.
What is automatic renewal? Why is the library using this feature?
Automatic renewal saves you time and effort. It means that every library user will have the same basic renewal services, without needing access to technology or the internet.
Items that can be renewed will be renewed automatically for up to 2 renewals. If items can’t be renewed, such as items with holds waiting, you will receive a notice three days before the due date.
Automatic renewal does not apply to digital materials, including ebooks, audiobooks, digital magazines, or streaming video. It also does not apply to interlibrary loan materials.
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