Fine Free 2020

If overdue fines have kept you or your family from using the Library, we have great news for you! Petoskey District Library (PDL) is proud to join fine-free libraries across the country and we look forward to welcoming back many patrons who have stopped using the library because of overdue fines. What started on January 1, 2020, overdue fines are no longer charged on most items. Most patrons’ existing overdue balances were wiped clean to give them a fresh start to the year.

Why is PDL going fine-free?
Fines do not always encourage the on-time return of items. What fines do is prevent access for patrons who cannot afford to pay for fines, or have difficulty getting to the library to return items on time. Other steps PDL has taken to remove barriers to access is installing off-site book returns, providing delivery of items to seven area assisted living facilities, and instituting a checkout and delivery system to the students of Petoskey High School.

Also, going fine-free is aligned with our mission to nurture knowledge, drive discovery and connect community, as well as meeting one of our core values in creating a welcoming place for all of our community.

What does Fine-Free at PDL mean?

  • On January 1, all current overdue fines will be removed.  Patrons will still be responsible for paying fees for lost items and/or referral charges.
  • No more daily fines for most overdue materials.  Due to demand, we will still charge overdue fees on our Kindles, Library of Things and Wi-Fi Hotspots.
  • Items that are more than 21 days overdue will result in an account being blocked until the items are renewed or returned
  • When items are 8 weeks overdue, patrons will be billed for the replacement cost of the item, plus a $5.00 processing charge.  However, once those items are returned, the entire bill is removed from the patron’s account.
  • Accounts owing more than $75 in lost items will be sent to a collection agency and billed a $10 referral charge.  If items are returned, bills for replacement costs will be removed, and only the referral charge will need to be paid.

How does having lost item fees on my account affect my ability to use the library?
Patrons cannot checkout items, including our digital collections until lost items are returned or paid for.  If an item has been damaged in your possession, or if you want to talk about replacement of lost items, please give us a call.  We have options for you.

If a patron’s card is blocked, they can still visit us to use the computers, attend programs, get answers to their questions, or just sit and read, regardless of what they may owe the library.

But will patrons turn their materials in on time?
A series of reminders to return overdue materials will be sent. Plus, research shows, libraries that have eliminated overdue fines have found that return rates actually go up. By removing the threat of daily accumulating late fines, people are less likely to avoid returning to the library and more likely to bring back any overdue items they’ve checked out. No late fines mean more people using the library.

What about increased wait times for holds?
Our research of other fine-free libraries indicates that hold times are minimally affected. PDL’s collection development team will monitor the number of copies vs holds ratio and adjust accordingly to limit any effects on wait times.

Will existing overdue fines be removed on January 1?
Yes, any existing overdue fines will be waived on January 1, 2020. Bills for lost items and collections will remain on patron accounts.

If you have questions about this, or any other Library service or program, please call 231.758.3100.