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It’s safe to go back to the Library, fine forgiveness

By johnboy - 29 June 2012 27

Chief Minister Gallagher has announced a jubilee (in the oldest sense of the word) by clearing the debts of guilty library users.

“Our experience has shown that fines are a major reason why people stop using the library. We want to see more people back in our libraries, where they have access to a wide range of learning resources and opportunities for both adults and children,” the Chief Minister said.

“From 1 July 2012, all outstanding fines for Libraries ACT members will be removed. People with unreturned books are encouraged to bring them back to their library.

“A new penalty system will be put in place, replacing the old fines system for those who don’t do the right thing and bring their items back in the future.

And the new system? No more fines, just administrative fees! (Followed by restricted borrowing rights and cutting off the library internet)

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27 Responses to
It’s safe to go back to the Library, fine forgiveness
Stevian 2:28 pm 30 Jun 12

DrKoresh said :

Damn, I’d go to court rather than pay multiple $200 fees, that’s ludicrous.

Cheapskate!

Snarky 2:23 pm 30 Jun 12

And more on topic, while the $200 is absurd as an “administrative fee” (weren’t banks recently forbidden for charging similar outrageous admin fees for overdue credit card amounts? Would this library fee even hold up if someone took it to court?) it might be worth noting that to cop the “fee” the item has to be overdue for 2 1/2 months AND you need to ignore a 14 day warning email AND you need to ignore a 28 day invoice to replace the lost item. It’s not exactly a rush to the blunderbuss is it?

Snarky 2:17 pm 30 Jun 12

Skidbladnir said :

We already have a terrible library system suffering from terrible customer service and underutilisation, made worse by the shitty user engagement of the existing administration, and this proposal does nothing to resolve any of the existing problems…

Geez, which branch are you using? My experience at Woden is and has always been exactly the opposite of this barrage of negativity. I stopped reading the rest of your comment given the utter hollowness of this first para.

Skidbladnir 1:38 pm 30 Jun 12

We already have a terrible library system suffering from terrible customer service and underutilisation, made worse by the shitty user engagement of the existing administration, and this proposal does nothing to resolve any of the existing problems.

How exactly does the “ACT Libraries: We’re deadly serious about inventory tracking and increasingly nasty about debt, but offer nothing new in exchange.” message encourage public library usage?

(I ask because those most likely to need a _publicly funded_ library are those worst affected by any cost increase, least able to access books at the going market rate, but are either already targeted by or most likely to benefit from literacy promotion programs… Isn’t this counter-productive social policy?)

Duffbowl 12:47 pm 30 Jun 12

damien haas said :

I also think they will have difficulty setting debt collectors on children. No contract with a person under the age of 18 is binding.

This is true, which is why most places, including community sports teams, require a parent or guardian to sign, essentially as a sponsor or guarantor.

Would a debt collector go after a child? Probably not. Would a debt collector go after a figure below $200? Yep, there are a couple in Canberra that will.

ChrisinTurner 10:44 am 30 Jun 12

I don’t think changing the name from “fine” to “administrative fee” and raising the amount to $200 is what the Chief Minister had in her mind, surely?

damien haas 12:31 am 30 Jun 12

I dont recall this $200 fine being in the agreement i signed when becoming an ACT Library user.

I also think they will have difficulty setting debt collectors on children. No contract with a person under the age of 18 is binding.

What a ludicrous change in policy.

If the aim is to attract users back to the library, i think this may actually go against them. If the real aim is to turn overdue books into a profit making stream, then just be honest about it.

Then again, this is an ACT Govt decision, what they mean and what they say are often at odds.

threepaws 12:22 am 30 Jun 12

Now that baby threepaws is of an age where she can enjoy some of the activities on offer at our local library, I have become a frequent visitor for the first time in more than a decade.

I was so impressed by the range, the self service technology, and the extremely helpful staff, I felt compelled to provide complimentary feedback to the ACT government. That was a first for me. I almost wrote a post on RA about how impressed I was.

I borrowed a couple of books for myself on baby threepaws’ card because I was actually a little scared to check whether I was blacklisted or not – it’s been so long I honestly can’t remember if I have a ‘stolen’ book lurking somewhere in my collection.

For someone in my situation, the wiping of fines will be welcome, because now that I have ‘rediscovered’ the library I know I will be making more of an effort to borrow, not purchase, those books I’m not sure I actually want to read. Books have now become a bit of a luxury item for me (not for baby threepaws, my Book Depository account can attest to that!) so I am ready to embrace the library again.

I have very fond memories of visiting the library as a child. The day the mobile library came to my (newly established) primary school each week was even more exciting than a lunch order. I hope that in this age of technology (jeez – how old am I?) my little one can still experience the same excitement browsing of the smorgasboard of books that is the Library.

Hopefully the new system will encourage people to return to the library, but wow – those new fines or ‘administration fees’ are huge. Thankfully this age of technology that rejects paper also allows me to put a calendar note on my phone to remind me when books are due.

@poetix – my understanding is that there are no fines for items borrowed on a child’s card?

thatsnotme 11:41 pm 29 Jun 12

“Our experience has shown that fines are a major reason why people stop using the library. We want to see more people back in our libraries, where they have access to a wide range of learning resources and opportunities for both adults and children,”

“A new penalty system will be put in place, replacing the old fines system for those who don’t do the right thing and bring their items back in the future.

I really don’t know whether to laugh or cry. “We want people to use the libraries, so we’re removing fines, and replacing them with penalties, which may include costs (‘costs’, not fines) of up to $200”

So tell me this. If the administrative costs of raising an invoice after 28 days is deemed to be $25, how can that cost raise to $200 after 84 days? Does a sterner letter cost more?

Even a $25 administrative fee is ridiculous. The library computer system flagging something as overdue, generating a template letter, which someone has to stuff into an envelope – this costs $25?

I’m sure anyone hit with these ‘penalties’ will be comforted in the knowledge that they’re not paying a fine.

Holditz 11:24 pm 29 Jun 12

Hmmmm… I have $23 worth of late fees incurred. One ordinarily would just wait out the time, but I did do the wrong thing, so I’l pay the late fee and she’ll be apples.

bigfeet 10:41 pm 29 Jun 12

You have got to kidding.

I paid my $2.70 fine for my overdue copy of ‘Call of Battle: The Best Ten Commando Comics Ever’ today. This is obviously a Government conspiracy.

On a side note: If you are of the age who remembers waiting for the new Commando comic to come out every week..this is an absolute cracking read. Well worth the overdue fees.

Elizabethany 10:26 pm 29 Jun 12

So instead of having a 20c per day fine, it goes up to 89c per day if 28 days over, and $2.38 per day if 3 months late. This doesn’t sound like reducing fines to me. To be perfectly honest, this is MORE likely to stop me going into the library, as I am a frazzled, overtired mum who occasionally forgets to return books on time. I don’t have a problem with paying fines, but $25 (let alone $200) is steep for a picture book.

DrKoresh 10:00 pm 29 Jun 12

Damn, I’d go to court rather than pay multiple $200 fees, that’s ludicrous.

poetix 8:46 pm 29 Jun 12

A $200 ‘administrative fee’ seems awfully like a massive fine to me! I assume that if someone makes contact with the library about a lost item, before the 84 days have expired, that they will only have to pay for replacement cost and a small administrative fee? Otherwise people will be too frightened to borrow if they, or their child, is a tad forgetful.

Yes, people should look after the books, but the basic idea of a library is circulation, not punishment.

Texpat 7:28 pm 29 Jun 12

They handed me a copy of the new policy right AFTER accepting the bag of food items I brought in to pay off my current balance through their “Food for Fines” program. If only I’d waited. Oh well, at least it went to a good cause.

I’m all for getting rid of the fines, but I hope the new system doesn’t lead to increased waiting times for “high demand” items.

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