Overdue fines for items have been eliminated!
Eliminating fines for overdue items means more people in our community have greater access to the library’s materials, resources, and services.
Late fines, no matter how small, are a very real and significant burden for some individuals, children, and families. These kinds of financial barriers can discourage many people who rely on the library from coming back, which means they can’t access books required for school, use public computers or the Internet, or access job resources. In removing this barrier, we want to help everyone in Cass County have greater access to information and opportunity. We would rather have you back visiting the library instead of staying away because you owe late fines.
As of October 2020, no more daily fines will be charged on overdue items. Existing overdue fines have been cleared on all accounts. Any existing lost or damaged item bills will remain on accounts.
While overdue fines will be eliminated, the library will still charge fees for lost or damaged materials. If an item is not returned within 3 weeks of the due date, the patron who checked out the item will still be charged the replacement cost of the item, in addition to a $5.00 processing fee. These fees are necessary to buy replacement materials for the library’s collection so that other patrons may use them. Patrons will receive email or text notifications about overdue items, though. The library will remind patrons 3 days before an item is due, 1 day after an item is due, 7 days after an item is due, and 3 weeks after the item is due. We want to give our patrons every chance to return materials.
Checkout limits have remained the same: books, audiobooks, and CDs may be borrowed for 3 weeks and renewed 3 times, if no other patron is waiting for the item. Up to 5 DVDs per card may be borrowed for 1 week and renewed once, if no other patron is waiting for the item.
Does this get rid of all my fines?
No. We have eliminated only overdue fines. Any existing fines for lost or damaged items will remain on your account.
Will people even return materials on time without late fines?
Interestingly, libraries that have ditched late 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 means more people using the library.
Does this mean I can keep the book I checked out forever?
You still have to bring back what you borrow – and we still ask that you try to do so on time – but this change is more lenient if you miss a due date. You can always try to renew your item if you need more time and there isn’t another patron waiting for it. If you don’t return the item, you will be charged a replacement cost for the item.
If I’m done with my borrowed materials before the due date, should I return them early?
Absolutely. Your fellow patrons will thank you for it. Returning items prior to their due date is very considerate and always appreciated. Early returns benefit other patrons patiently waiting their turn for popular book titles, movies, or music.
Doesn’t the library need to charge late fines for revenue purposes?
Overdue fines contribute only a very small amount to the library’s operating budget. While the library is always carefully watching its bottom line, any loss of overdue fine revenue is tiny compared with the good this new policy will do for the community. Above all, it’s worth it to us to forgo potential funds from fines to remove barriers to Library use.
If there aren’t overdue fines, how will I know to bring back my items?
Patrons will receive email or text notifications about overdue items. The library will remind patrons 3 days before an item is due, 7 days after an item is due, and 3 weeks after the item is due. We want to give our patrons every chance to return materials.
If an item hasn’t been returned 3 weeks after its due date, it will be considered lost and the library will need to charge a fee to cover the cost of replacing the missing item in our collection. A lost item fee, along with a $5 processing fee, will be applied to your account. And if materials are still not returned 42 days (6 weeks) after the due date, your account may be turned over to a collection agency and charged an additional processing fee.
As long as we get the item back in good shape, you won’t ever be charged overdue fines. If you eventually find and return the outstanding materials, the lost item fee is erased from your account.
How does having lost or damaged item fees on my account affect my ability to use Library services?
While we have eliminate late fines, the Library will still charge fees for lost or damaged materials. These fees are necessary to buy replacement books, CDs, or DVDs in the library’s collection so other patrons may use them. When a patron owes $25 worth of lost or damaged books, CDs, or DVDs, their account is blocked. That person then cannot borrow any additional physical materials, use our computers, or access our online resources. The account is unblocked when the items are returned or the lost book fees are paid.
Check out your item. Books, audiobooks, and CDs may be borrowed for 3 weeks and renewed 3 times, if no other patron is waiting for the item.
Up to 5 DVDs per card may be borrowed for 1 week and renewed once, if no other patron is waiting for the item.
3 Days Before Item is Due
You’ll get a reminder email or text about returning your item by the due date. Feel free to return the item early!
Time to return the item you borrowed!
1 Day Overdue
This is when overdue fines started before going fine free. Even though there aren’t overdue fines, we do still encourage you to return the item. If you need more time and another patron isn’t waiting for it, you can renew the item online.
7 Days Overdue
You will receive an email or text message reminding you that the item is overdue, and you should return it. If another patron isn’t waiting for it, you can renew the item online.
21 Days Overdue
At this point, 3 weeks past the due date, the item will be considered lost by the library. You will receive an email or text message explaining that you have been billed for the item. Patrons are billed for the replacement cost of the item and a $5 processing fee.
42 Days Overdue
If the item has still not been returned 6 weeks after the due date, you may be referred to a collection agency. Once referred, an additional $10 processing fee will be assessed; this fee needs to be paid even if the items have been returned.