Fine Free FAQ
As of January 1st, 2023, the East Greenbush Community Library no longer charges extended use fees, also known as overdue or late fines, for the majority of items returned past the due date. Patrons are still responsible for all other fees, including lost and damaged materials and late charges for specialty items. See below for answers to frequently asked questions.
Why go fine free?
- It’s good for our community. Our community is stronger and healthier when people have access to the programs, services, and materials they need to pursue their educational, career, family, and life goals. We hope this will encourage prior users to come back to the library and attract new users to experience what we offer.
- Late fines are not effective. Studies have shown that small fines have no impact on return rates. During the pandemic, the library stopped charging fines for a number of months. We found that it only had a nominal impact on whether or not materials were returned on time.
- It’s fiscally responsible. The benefits of going fine free outweigh the costs of managing fines. Due to increasing electronic materials (which do not accrue late fines) and other factors, fines are no longer a sustainable form of revenue for the library. Money collected from fines has gone down steadily for the past ten years, especially with our new auto-renewal service.
What does this mean for me?
- No more daily fines on overdue books and media.
- You are still responsible for returning your items. We do want all items back!
- The library will send you reminders to return your items.
- Materials that are more than 30 days overdue are assumed lost, and you will be billed for replacement costs. Return the items or make a payment to clear your account. No refunds will be issued after payment is received.
- Replacement fees and charges for lost or damaged items still apply.
- Daily charges will accrue on specialty items (Library of Things, Stories to Go Kits, STEM Kits, Laptops, Museum Passes, Hotspots, and Interlibrary Loan). See the table of fines and fees for more information.
- Fine free applies to items checked out/returned to the East Greenbush Community Library. Items checked out at other libraries must follow borrowing rules from the other library.
Will my previous fines be forgiven?
If you are an East Greenbush cardholder (not UHLS), previously late fines for most items returned past the due date will be forgiven. Patrons are still responsible for all other fees, including lost and damaged materials and late charges for specialty items.
Can I still check out if I owe money on my library account?
Yes, if the amount owed is under $5. Cardholders owing $5 or more will have their accounts blocked until the amount is paid down.
Fines have been waived, so why does my account still have a balance?
While the library is doing away with most overdue fines, fees for lost or damaged materials remain. Fines will still be charged for Library of Things, Stories to Go Kits, STEM Kits, Laptops, Museum Passes, Hotspots, and Interlibrary Loan.
If I check out an East Greenbush Community Library item at another Library, for example one of the many libraries in the Upper Hudson Library System (UHLS), am I assessed a fine if late?
Maybe. Only items checked out/returned at East Greenbush Community Library are eligible. Items checked out at other libraries must follow borrowing rules from the other library.
How will the library get people to return books?
“No fines” does not mean “no responsibility.” Materials that are more than 30 days overdue are assumed lost, and you will be billed for replacement costs. If you bring back the item, those charges will be removed. Please remember that other people may want the item you borrowed, so don’t hesitate to return it.
If I purchase a book to replace the one I lost, will you accept it for a lost or damamged item?
No. You must pay the cost of the item and associated processing fee for lost and damaged items.
Will any items still accrue fines?
Most books and library materials (not including specialty items) will not have daily late fines incurred. However, no new material may be checked out until all overdue items are returned. Any materials 30 days or more overdue will be deemed lost and the patron billed for full replacement cost.
The following items will be charged a daily late fine:
- Library of Things
- Stories to Go Kits
- STEM Kits
- Museum Passes
- Interlibrary Loan
Will I still receive reminders about returning items?
You will still receive email, phone, or text notices (depending on the preferences you have set) for overdue items. After 30 days, the library will send a bill for the items.
How is the library budget affected by the loss of fine income?
Overdue fines on average make up approximately one half of one percent of the library’s annual budget. The library has been able to shift other budget lines to make up for the lost revenue.
I have always thought of paying my fines as a donation to the library. Can I still donate?
Yes! Now and in the future, donations to the Friends of the Library or directly to the library can be made online, through the mail, or in person. Your donation will support critical library programs and services.
What is the difference between a fine and a fee?
Daily small charges called fines are “compliance charges” used to incentivize returns, but research has shown that those small fines do not significantly contribute to those returns. Fees are charged for library services and products such as copying, printing, and damaged material replacement costs.
What about e-books and other digital materials?
As always, e-content never accrues any fines and will automatically be returned at the end of the lending period. E-content is always accessible to East Greenbush cardholders regardless of fines or fees on a cardholder’s account.