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The PINES Executive Committee approved the use of fines-free circulation modifiers for any PINES library system that would like to use them [2023.09]. The following documentation reviews important factors to consider in going fines-free, as well as a general process outline.
Once a library system has decided to go fines-free, the director should first notify the other systems through the PLD-Directors listserv and notify PINES through a Help Desk ticket. (The Help Desk request must be approved by the director; either the director can submit the ticket, or they need to respond in the ticket with their approval.) PINES will then meet with the library director/staff to finalize the project plan and timelines.
Things to Consider
Collection of fees for damaged, lost, and unreturned materials owned by their libraries are at the discretion of each system. As are the collection of overdue fines for those materials without fines free circulation modifiers such as technology, local passes, and equipment. Contractual obligations to charge fines may apply to state passes; for example, the Zoo Atlanta DVD is under contractual obligation to continue to accrue fines so libraries must continue to charge those fines. For their technology, equipment, and other materials that will accrue fines, fines-free libraries should decide whether to waive fines on return or continue to charge fines on these items.
Materials from other library systems will still accrue fines, and fines-free library patrons will be charged those fines and damaged, lost, and unreturned fees. Fines-free libraries should have a patron education plan in place so that users understand that some materials they borrow will continue to accrue fines and fees.
Clean Slate Program
Before going fines-free, libraries may wish to institute a “clean slate” program to forgive fines and/or fees owed by all patrons. Overdue fines forgiven under a clean slate program are those fines checked out at local branches. Fines and fees should be forgiven prior to or immediately after the start of the project. The following steps should be taken before completing a clean slate program.
- Determine which fines and fees will be forgiven.
- Determine overdue fines and fees for unreturned, lost, or damaged materials.
- Determine which materials apply (for example, will it be just for children’s materials?).
- Employ an education program to inform patrons and staff which fines will be forgiven and which fines will stay in place.
- With the assistance of PINES staff, process fines for forgiveness.
Welcome Back Program
Another option the library may want to consider is a “welcome back” program, which involves forgiving fines for patrons as they come into the library and/or return items. The process of forgiving those fines will be based on which fines have been determined to be waived. During the welcome back program, it is recommended to track the bills that are forgiven or voided through the following two reports under Quick Reports > Bills.
- Detailed Forgive and Work Payments (to track the amount of fines forgiven)
- Bills Voided Within a Date Range (to make sure staff aren't accidentally voiding fines/fees instead of forgiving them)
It is possible for the library to choose to do both a clean slate and a welcome back program. For example, the library can run a welcome back campaign for six months and then complete the clean slate program.
|Director notifies PINES-Directors list
|Director submits Help Desk ticket to PINES
|Run reports on current circ mods and create spreadsheet for circ mod mapping
|Meet to discuss circ mod mapping and other datawork plans
|Director approves circ mod mapping
|Schedule go-live datawork date
|Complete staff training
|Update cataloging templates with -ff circ mods
|Update receipt templates at all circ locations
|Datawork change over
|Make sure all GPLS passes use normal circ mods
The following statistics should be compiled through reports before the datawork has been completed. All these reports start in the Shared Folder:
Templates > terran > Fines-Free Reports > Bills
- Amount Paid at Library
- Amount Paid via OPAC
- Bills charged by billing library
- Bills charged by patron home library
- Total Bills owed by Billing Location, Billing Year, and Last Billing Type
Templates > terran > Fines-Free Reports > Circulation
- Circulation by Circ Library
- Circulation by Owning Library
Templates > terran > Fines-Free Reports > Items
- Count of Items by Status
- Count of Unreturned Items (Brief)
- List of Unreturned Items
Templates > terran > Fines-Free Reports > Patrons
- Active Patron Count by State and County
- Count of Blocked Users (Snapshot)
- Count of Blocked Users by County
- Count of Blocked Users by County (Brief)
- Count of Inactive Users
- Count of Patrons in Collections (revised)
- Count of Users (Snapshot)
- Count of Users that Circulated Items (by Circ Library)
- Local stats for other lib services (not in EG)
Before going fines-free, it is important that staff are trained on:
- Which materials accrue fines and which do not.
- Whether fines will be waived/forgiven on checkin for materials without fines-free circ mods. Materials owned by other non-fines free libraries will still accrue fines, and should not be forgiven upon the item's return.
- When fines will accrue for items borrowed from other PINES libraries. It would be helpful to display the Owning Library column in the checkout screen on all circ workstations as a reminder to inform patrons of nonlocal materials that will accrue fines.
- Review what the new receipt templates will look like so staff can educate patrons upon checkout.
If the library is completing a welcome back program, staff must be informed of the following:
- Do not use amnesty mode when checking in items. When patrons come in and/or items are returned, staff should pull up the patron’s account so that they can forgive any fines on the patron's account.
- In the Bills tab of the patron's account, be sure Owning Library, Circulation Library, and Last Billing Type columns are being displayed.
- If the Last Billing Type is Lost, Long Overdue, or Damaged, only forgive the fines/fees IF the Owning Library is within the system.
- Staff should be careful to forgive fines, not void them. Please make sure to review the wiki page as a reminder: Forgive vs. Void.
Checkout receipts should be updated to reflect which items are local and do not accrue fines and which items are from other PINES libraries and do accrue fines.
Checkout Receipt Template
This example shows a note on the Checkout receipt template when an item is not fines-free.
<div ng-if="!checkout.copy.circ_modifier.name.includes('-ff')"><b>This item is subject to fines.</b></div>
Items Out Receipt Template
A slight variation is necessary to display the same note on the Items Out template.
<div ng-if="!checkout.copy.circ_modifier.includes('-ff')"><b>This item is subject to fines.</b></div>
Sample Marketing Materials
In promoting that the library system is going and/or is now fines free, the library may want to consider approaching other government and community partners about advertising.
Some other fines free libraries have provided some of their marketing materials for inspiration here.