We’re occasionally asked why the Red Feather Library doesn’t charge overdue fines, logic being that the library could certainly use the money to purchase additional materials or otherwise would encourage users to return materials more promptly. Both are laudable goals.
We have no intention to either disparage or praise the practices of other public libraries that do (or do not) assess fines. Libraries vary as much as their clientele. Service philosophies can be quite different. However, we’re not talking about them… we’re talking about you — you as a member of the Red Feather Lakes Community Library and what works for you.
By Creed Kidd,
The point is what works: service that allows you to come in during convenient hours, be greeted in a friendly fashion, helped as needed, and be able find the materials or services (such as computer access or Wi-Fi) that you’re interested in; have those materials charged to your account in an efficient and durable manner with a borrowing period that’s workable for you.
If that’s not happening, I’d like to hear directly from you. Please call 970-881-2664 and ask for Creed, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll fix it.
Back to late fees. We’ve found that overdue charges here do not enhance services but rather cost the library and cost you. Overdue items and late fees can be contentious or otherwise based on inflexible borrowing practices.
For example, I remember working at a library long ago and in a state far, far away, and having a 10-year old boy turned away from the circulation desk because he couldn’t pay a 25-cent fine. Or, a father disallowing his daughter from using the library because she’d accidently water-damaged a book. Or, a family new in the area unable to obtain library cards because they were unable immediately prove residency — the dad left the library shaking his fist and vowing to buy the books they needed.
Because of increasing fines on several borrowed items, we had several people ‘sneak’ returns past the circulation desk and shelve them themselves. Thus, when the books were found, checked in and the fines waived the fault was that of the library.
Library consultant Joan Frye Williams has stated that there are two places in America today where you’re guilty until proven innocent: traffic court and the library circulation desk with overdue items.
That doesn’t happen here at Red Feather Lakes Community Library. Don’t have a quarter? No problem because no fees have been assessed on your returns. Returning a water-damaged book? We’ll work out a fair, friendly and equitable solution that’s to your benefit and, also to that of your fellow library members who may want to borrow the book in the future.
Want a library card but can’t immediately verify your home address? No problem. We’ll work it out. Your RFL Library has full-service cards issued to individuals in all corners of Colorado, 30 additional states and two foreign countries (The Netherlands and Australia). We expect to shake hands when you leave and expect that when you return you’ll be greeted by friendly, helpful staff members and volunteers.
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