The Library Is Now Fine Free
(July 1, 2021) – The Anderson County Library System is eliminating overdue fines on almost all library materials on July 1. ACLS joins a growing, nationwide movement of libraries going fine-free to reduce financial barriers to library access. The policy was approved by the Anderson County Library Board of Trustees to go into effect at the beginning of the library’s fiscal year on July 1.
“The library provides many services to the community, and we want to ensure those services are truly accessible to everyone,” says Library Director Annie Sutton. “Removing overdue fines does exactly that.”
With this policy change, ACLS will also remove all outstanding overdue fines on patrons’ accounts. Patrons will no longer accrue any fines for returning materials after their due date, with the exception of limited, highly specialized items such as passes to South Carolina state parks and to the Children’s Museum of the Upstate. Patrons will still be charged for lost or damaged materials. ACLS will continue to send email reminders when materials are due.
In the past, overdue fines have been thought to encourage patrons to return materials to the library in a timely manner. However, research does not support this idea. Instead, fines can have the opposite effect; fearing fines, patrons may not return materials at all and stop using the library altogether. Eliminating overdue fines increases library access and improves interactions between library users and staff. Public libraries that have gone fine-free have also reported increased library use and circulation of materials.
“We’ve all heard the story of the long-overdue book; it’s even in an old episode of Seinfeld,” says Sutton. “I want the library to be a welcoming place and for people to have a positive experience each time they visit.”
People who have questions about their library account, overdue items, or who would like a library card can visit any of ACLS’s nine locations or bookmobile.
Fine Free FAQ
Are all materials free of overdue fines?
Nearly all materials are with the exception of limited, highly specialized items such as SC state park passes and TCMU passes.
Do I still have to pay an overdue fine that was on my account prior to July 1, 2021?
No. Amnesty will be applied to all unpaid overdue fines.
What happens if I don’t return my materials by the due date?
Materials that are 60 days overdue are assumed to be lost, and you will be billed for them. However, if the items are returned in good condition, the charges will be removed and your account will resume good standing.
Will I still receive reminders about returning materials?
Yes. You will be notified by email before and after materials are due. You will receive additional notifications by email when an item is considered lost. Please make sure your email address is up to date in your library account.
What’s the difference between a fine and a lost or damage fee?
Fines are a daily penalty assessed for the late return of items. Lost or damage fees are assessed for items that are long overdue (considered “lost”), or that were returned damaged or with missing parts.
If I owe money, can I still borrow from the Library?
If you owe less than $10, you can still check out items, access digital resources, and use public computers. For accounts owing more, you can pay your bill or discuss payment plan options with the Circulation Department at the Anderson Main Library or your local branch.
Will you issue refunds or credits for lost items that have been paid for?
Yes, you will receive a refund for the amount you paid and any remaining lost item charges will be removed from your account.
What if I can’t return materials?
If you are unable to return materials borrowed, payment plans are available.
What about exceptional circumstances?
Please ask to speak with a Library supervisor.
I still have a book that was due 6 months ago. What should I do with it?
Bring it back! Even if you’ve had it for years, you can still return it and use the Library with no late fines or replacement fees for this item as long as there is no damage to the item.
I paid $10 in fines earlier this year. Do I get them back?
No, this change in policy is only effective moving forward.
Without fines, will others return materials in a timely manner?
Libraries across the country that have eliminated overdue fines report that patrons still return materials on time, that more materials are checked out, and that interactions between staff and patrons are positive.
Can items be returned to any Anderson County Library System location?
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