Henrietta and Rush Public Libraries Eliminate Late Fines Starting September 1, 2022
Henrietta and Rush Public Libraries are joining other libraries that have eliminated late fines. Late fees are a reason some of the most vulnerable people in our communities—children, people who have disabilities, the elderly—don’t use our libraries. Families with multiple children often struggle with late fees, and when we looked into the numbers, we found that the state classifies 46% of students in the Rush Henrietta Central School District as economically disadvantaged. Speaking of which, RHCSD libraries don’t charge late fees, so going fine free would give students a consistent experience across the libraries they’re using.
Consider this: If each member of a family of five (two adults and three children) checks out 5 items, and a parent gets sick and returns all those items three days late, those $0.35/day late fees will add up to $26.25.
Late Fines are Not a Reliable or Consistent Source of Revenue
- Late fines have been steadily decreasing over the last ten years.
- Electronic reminders and easy online renewals have decreased the number of items returned late.
- Many other libraries in the Monroe County Library System have eliminated some late fees.
- Our popular ebook loaning system, OverDrive, doesn’t charge any overdue fees because items return themselves.
- We already give no-fine status to certain categories of borrowers, such as people who are unable to leave their homes for medical reasons.
- We will continue to bill patrons for the replacement of lost or damaged books.
Expected Results of Eliminating Late Fees
- We’ll see more active library cards and checkouts, particularly among children, teens, and senior citizens. (“Libraries have seen circulation increases of 2-16% following the elimination of late fees.” 1)
- We may see the return of long overdue books and patrons that have avoided the library for fear of being perceived as irresponsible. 1
- Evidence shows that Libraries report that the rate of items returned late stays steady after eliminating late fees 1 (Both good and bad habits die hard!), so we’d expect to see most items continue to be returned on time.
- Labor that was previously devoted to the collection of late fees can be reallocated to more productive work (i.e. checking out materials and assisting people with informational needs).
Learn More about Libraries that Have Eliminated Late Fees:
1 Lori Bown Ayre, “Library Late Fees: Not Just Ineffective, But Harmful,” (The Galecia Group, February 16, 2021), https://galecia.com/sites/default/files/Library%20Late%20Fees%20-%20Ineffective%20and%20Harmful.pdf.