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        I had many responses from people in regard to my
Target-->Overdue Fines. I believe that I will dump the fines for next year.
How about you? Please read the following:

From:    "Global SchoolNet Fdn (FrEdMail)" <lmnet-l@ACME.FRED.ORG>
Subject: Re: Target-->Overdue fines
        We have never charged fines in my 20+ years at PHS.  My belief is that
as the days went by and fines got bigger students would be less and less
inclined to bring books back.  If someone has an overdue book or magazine
he/she cannot check out anything else until that overdue is returned.  At a
certain point we declare the item lost and charge the student the cost of the
item.  If they bring it back the charge is wiped out.
        Actually, most of our students have plenty of money and paying a fine
would not hurt them, but you know how people act when faced with "authority".
I want to be as little police state as possible.  Maybe I'm too soft.  I also
don't want to handle much money in the library.  We have been robbed and since
then I have taken pains to let students know we do not have large amounts of
money.  These are all considerations for our no fines policy.  This does not
prepare students for the real world since the public library and the local
colleges and universities all charge hefty fines.  Jane

From:    Caroline Brannigan  ac182@DAYTON.WRIGHT.EDU
        I was a high school librarian for five years, and we had fines.  It
was a real pain (especially since we do not have automated circulation.)  I
would get the book back (which is all I really wanted in the first place), and
then I'd have to harass the student and keep some dopey record of his fine for
the next 5 months until he finally paid up.  The librarian after me discouraged
that a little bit by tacking on an automatic 50 cent fee to the regular fine if
it was not paid at the same time the book was returned. I'd say, forget it. Just
block borrowing privileges (works well enough for me here at the
7-8 building.)

        I had the same problems and concerns two years ago.  Last year we
eliminated fines and found that there was absolutely no difference in return
rate or "good will."  Seems as if money was no object.  I thought if this was
the case I might as well accept the "bad will" and put the profits toward new
library materials.  We reimposed the 5-cent fine this year.

From:    Shelley Lochhead   s_lochhead@mentor.unh.edu
        Dump the fines and don't look back!

From:   Deborah Chaney    chaney@tenet.edu
        I've never favored fines. It doesn't seem to succeed in its purpose-to
get the materials back on time. It DOES use up staff time, DOES create ill
will, and you STILL have overudes. Only excuse to retain is that it is an added
source of revenue in ever-strapped budgets. Our high schools collect fines, and
have massive overdue problems-this is Irving (TX) schools.

From:  Kathy Sornsin   sornsin@sendit.NoDak.edu
         I am in a 9-12 school, and have also been charging 5cents per day per
book, and I agree it is a real pain!  I am going to try no fines next school
year, and see what happens.  It will be a first in our school!  So, how do I do
this?  Do I check them out for a long
er time?  Do I wait until they're overdue say for a month, then send around
the overdue list? I have been sending an overdue list to the homeroom teachers
about every 2 weeks, but typically, I guess, some
of the teachers do something about it, and others don't even mention it!  How
do others do this?

From:  Kay Maynard    cant@darkstar.rsa.lib.il.us
        I have tried it both ways--no fines and now five cents a day.  Either
way uses staff time because at some point in time you need to retrieve the
wandering books--the dog ate it; it was in the trunk of my car; it burned up in
the fire; I just found it xxx, I don't know how it got there, etc.
        When I arrived at my present position two years ago the fine system
was in place.  It does not have the desired effect of making students
responsible, but I have been able to use the fine money for a variety of items
that were truly needed. In addition to the five cents per day we charge
replacement cost for lost books, we add a service fee of $2.00 if carried from
one school year to the next, we charge 50 cents per period for reserves not
returned, etc.

From:  Sandy Barron    sbarron@tenet.edu
        We charge fines also-10 cents per school day. It is a big time eater
and after the first two years we saw no great difference in number of overdues.
BUT it was put in place after one of my library aides made the comment "Mrs.B.
the kids don't bring the books back because there is no penalty for not doing
so". My aide was really frustrated with her peers and thought there should be a
penalty for not "following the rules". Overdues are time consuming whatever,
but this way we get some monies in the activity fund.  Whenever a student pays
a fine I try to mention some of the items purchased with the monies--i.e.
paperback books, our 55 gallon aquarium, and this year a large 45" TV for the
        BYW after 6 years paying fines, we have little complaint about the
policy. There is a $5.00 cap on fines. One glitch==when the fine and the book
cost are nearly the same. This happens sometimes on paperbacks.  BTW we don't
charge cost of book + fine when a book is lost.

From:  Betty Hamilton  bhamilt@tenet.edu
        I charge fines because "it has always been that way," but I, too, am
thinking of changing.  We have *much* theft.  I'm wondering if students would
be more willing to check books out if they won't have fines if they forget to
bring the books back on time.  I think some just take the books to avoid that
fine issue -- just in case.

From:  Floyd Pentlin   fpentlin@hobbs.leesummit.k12.mo.us
        We do not have fines and have not had for 15 years.  Everything I read
seems to indicate that fines are not helpful in getting material returned, and,
as you have noted, a poor public relations tool.  We do have extensive
overdues, but then that is because we have a lot of circulation.

From:     Kathy Geronzin  Gooselak@po-1.star.k12.ia.us
        I stopped charging fines years ago when it seemed to take as much or
more time to collect the fine as it did to get the overdue book returned. I can
understand the ill will it causes when fines are collected.  It seems that both
charging fines and not charging fines have advantages and disadvantages.

From:  Joan Miller   KBX_MILLER@MEC.OHIO.GOV
      I too suffered the frustration of chasing students for 15 cents, but I
got smart.  We send overdue notices each week, but do not charge fines until
the end of the semester.  We hold reports at the end of the nine weeks
(mid-semester).  At the end of the semester we print on the overdue notices
that anything overdue after a certain date will be charged $1.00 per item. This
is regardless of how long overdue -- one day or 22 days.  They have plenty
of warning and we really don't get much opposition.   We don't mind wasting
our time chasing a dollar, but those little bitty fines didn't solve anything.
We save lots of time and frustration and the kids are so pleased when they come
in and don't owe a fine.  We tell them we know their assignments are due at a
certain time and we really don't care if they keep the materials until they are
finished if they will just bring them in when they are finished. If another
student needs the material we contact the one who has it out and ask for a
return.  That's our solution!  Hope it will work for you.

From:   Sandy Doggett  sdoggett@umd5.umd.edu
        I have never charged fines in school libraries.  I do charge if the
book is lost or damaged.  I encourage them to renew their books but they seldom
do.  I don't see any reason to charge fines.

From:  Danee Wilson   dwilson@umd5.umd.edu
        I charge overdue fines only on reference books.  I let reference go
out overnight only.  If they don't get the book back before the beginning of
1st period, I charge 50 cents a day, beginning one minute after 1st period
begins.  Every time I check out a reference book, I remind the student of the
rule, emphasize the fine and tell them the only way not to get a fine is to
have a valid signed excuse.  I get the reference back quickly because the fine
adds up quickly.  Of course, that was the reason for making it 50 cents a day.

From:  Lynn Ondercin  londerci@nyx.cs.du.edu
        We do charge a nickel  day, also, at our 9-12 high school, but over
the years it has proved to the the only incentive for getting books back at
all!   We have tried to look like the "good guys" buy waiving fine, only
charging partial fines, asking students to do errands or work for us in the
library to "work off" their fines.  They think we are really giving them a
break when we say say "just bring it back tomorrow and I'll only charge you
half" and other motivational bribes.  Many students end up enjoying helping us
in the library and with help so hard to get these days, it turns out to be
beneficial for all (while making unlikely new
friends!!) An amnesty day was a disaster!   The rest of the year, kids just
said they were going to wait and get out of their fine when we had another
amnesty day!!

From:     Jerry Blakestyn KWV_BLANKEST@MEC.OHIO.GOV
        I understand your frustration but I do not think that doing away with
fines will make your task any easier.  You will still have to retrieve overdue
books and the students will have even less incentive to get them in on time
than before.  At least with fines, you make some money for new books, supplies,
bookmarkers, etc. for your trouble.
        We charge 10 cents a day.  I believe that many students do bring back
books sooner than they would have without the fine.  We have the luxury of an
automated system that keeps track of everything for us...it was much more work
by hand.

From:   Mary Stallings  mstallin@pen.k12.va.us
        We at Poquoson HIgh School abolished fines this year in an
attempt to eliminate unnecessary hassles and waste of time for
our clerical staff.  Plus, we were converting to a new computer
system.  So far, haven't noticed any problems with an increase
in number of overdue books.  Sure has been great not having to
deal with money and recording the name of each student and the
amount paid in our accounts book.

From:       Pam Spencer pspencer@pen.k12.va.us
        In the 20+ years I've been a librarian, I've never charged
fines. I do hate the time it all takes and you're correct about
the ill-will. The few cents you receive are not worth the
hassle. Good luck making a decision.

From:  Frankie Dilling   fdilling@tenet.edu
        You can conduct a keyword search of the LM_NET archives.
There are currently 32 messages posted there regarding fines.

From:   Rachel Carson  aixoise@netcom.com
        At both of the high schools that I serve, we charge fines.  The
fine .10/day up to a max of 3.00 per book.  Kids seem to understand and rarely
try to argue their way out of it. The fines are "real world"
treatment--no different that what they'd get at the P.L. (except
cheaper); and the kids know that the fines they pay buy them more library

From:  Cindy Menkhus   lmenkhus@services.dese.state.mo.us
        I have worked in this school district for 14 years and was delighted
to discover that the district did not allow students to be charged fines.  I
worked in two middle schools, one with fines and the other without.  I found
that it seemed to make no difference in the length of time students kept books
out--they return them when they are ready or think of it.  The school that
charged fines had a huge overdue/fine list because middle school and junior
high students seldom have money when they turn in their books.  We got the book
back (our primary goal) but then had to track the kids down for the money.
        I have been at this high school for five years and we do not charge
overdue fines and we won't go back to the other way,
the good PR we get and the fact that we emphasis to students that we just want
the materials returned in good condition helps to maintain good relations with

         We abandoned overdue fines about 6 years ago here in
Danvers.  I think sometimes kids don't bring books back because they think
they have to pay the fine on the spot and don't have the money, so the fines
just accumulate.  I believe it's much less threatening for the students if
there are no fines--I have no statistical evidence to back this up, however. We
have pretty good fortune getting books back--by just asking kids when we
see them (we keep computer printout of overdues on the counter) and we can
"badger" them without threat of fines.

From: Karel A. Smith  ksmith@services.dese.state.mo.us
        For those same reasons we stopped charging fines 20 years ago.  We
still have a lot of overdues, but charging fines certainly wasn't the answer.
In fact right now, we'd just like to have the books checked out!

From: Robert Hiebert   jwilliam@cln.etc.bc.ca
          I'm the librarian of an 8 to 12 school of 550 in Golden, BC, Canada.
 I took over this job last September and inherited a (virtually) no-fine
situation.  I hated it!  Some students seemed to have no sense of
responsibility regarding the books they borrowed.  I instituted a 10 cent per
day (that's Canadian; about 5 cents American . . ha!ha!) fine. The computer
system allows me to generate overdue and unpaid fine notices pretty simply (it
takes me about an hour and a half a week of no-brainer activity).  Teachers
hand these to their students Friday afternoon.  Now it is June and I'm sending
out about 120 notices each week.  Some of the students have been
receiving the same notice for months!  This sounds like failure
but it isn't.  Most of the notices are for unpaid fines; in other
words I'm getting the books back.  Our grads HAVE to pay their
fines to get on the grad list.  The rest of the students will
have their debt deducted from their textbook deposit.  The money
I collect will help to buy some of the stuff that has been
stolen.  (Do you have much trouble with stealing?)
        The staff has been very supportive.  Most of them have about
half a dozen notices to hand out once a week.  Some of them
really get on the cases of the repeat offenders! The students attitude toward
the library has improved.  Whether this will translate into more responsible
behaviour next year remains to be seen, but I'm optimistic.  (If you like,
contact me next June to find out!)

From:  Marilyn Shontz   SHONTZ@iris.uncg.edu

From: Debbie Athanases athanasd@belnet.bellevue.k12.wa.us
        When I came to my position 8 years ago, the librarians collected
fines. I decided that it used more staff time than the amount collected
warranted, plus I needed to improve the library's public relations.  I
eliminated all fines except for replacing lost materials and I have never
regretted it.  There are secondary schools in our district which do collect
fines, but they have larger staffs.  I think we do too much fussy nit-picking
work, when we could be helping kids learn!

         We charge .05/day and have no major problems.  We explain to the
students that we are helping them learn cause and effect--responsibility.  When
they get to college the fine won't be a mere nickle a day.  Also, we have only
one due date per week (Wednesdays), except for temporaries and reserves.  This
to cut down on confusion.  If it's Wednesday, it must be due day..., etc.  We
use find money to buy things we would not be able to get with our tight budget
situation (paperbacks students would like to have, etc.)

From: Chris Dewar  cdewar@minet.gov.mb.ca
        We are not allowed to collect fines from students.  Therefore we
charge only for lost materials and refund the money if a paid- for item is
found and returned to the library. We do restricts borrowing privileges of
students with overdue materials until such a time as they see fit to renew or
to return their stuff.

From: Vicki M Sherouse  sherouse@tenet.edu
        Abolish fines.  I did and really I lose fewer books and have much less

From:   Julie Walker    jawalker@tenet.edu
        Do it!

From: Linda Ramsey lramsey@bigcat.missouri.edu
       We do not charge fines, partly because it is too time-consuming.
Also, our students normally check books out for the quarter book report, so
they tend to need them all quarter.  Our philosophy is that the book does no
one any good, just sitting on the shelf.  However, we also have a policy that
if someone else requests a book, then there is a two week limit.  Our school is
small and our students are pretty cooperative, so this works for us.
        I try to order multiple copies of the really popular titles
(especially short classics, for book reports :-} ).  The time I would
normally spend on overdues, is now spent trying to get kids to read the
popular titles quickly, so they can be shared with others.  We do
withhold report cards if students have overdues, and for repeat
offenders, I cancel their checkout privileges, but this is rare. At the end of
each quarter I post a list of students with overdues (student names, but NOT
book titles).  I think some students love to have their names posted, and some
like NOT getting their report cards.  Some students always have overdues.  Is
this a power thing or a
search for attention, or just irresponsibility?
        Sometimes I post a list of students who HAVE returned all of their
materials on-time, with a big thank you note!  I get lots of smiles from these
kids when they realize that they are getting some positive attention for doing
what is expected of them!

From:  J. Perkins     jperkins@po-1.star.k12.ia.us
        Your posting is very timely considering the fiasco at the end of the
school with trying to get all items returned to the MC! We do not charge a fine
for overdue books.  We also (at one point) had over
200 books overdue!  Our population is 900 students.  So far we have limited a
few MC privileges for those with overdue materials--but it's always a battle.
        We are loath to start collecting fines, as anytime you deal with money
it's a hassle.  Yet we need to find an effective way to get materials returned
in a timely manner.
        As I mentioned, withholding privileges has worked to some degree with
students, but some of our worst offenders are staff members.  If I told them
they weren't allowed to use the computer because of an overdue book, it would
be unpopular to say the least!

From: Kari Inglis      KBW_INGLIS@MEC.OHIO.GOV
        We have always charged fines (5 cents/day for books and mags, and 25
cents a day for AV, reference, etc.).  Now that we are automated this takes NO
time at all.  I am in a Catholic school which allows me to use the money as I
wish.  If I could not keep the money, I would not bother.  It is amazing that
kids who would argue with us over fines charged under our manual system are
very accepting of what the computer tells them.  Also, we have learned never to
have a grace day.  First, they don't work, and
second, you then get arguments on the day after.  We do keep fines in the
system over the summer and add a "carrying charge" for the nuisance.
        But - this is what keeps us in pens, pencils, kleenex, scissors, etc.

From: David Loertscher davidl@csn.org
        The research I have seen indicates that a no-fines policy results in
the same percentage of return.  The task is to create a sense of community and
good will.

From: Sue Shaver  sshaver@panesu.esu14.k12.ne.us
        I am a librarian in a K-12 system in Western Nebraska.  Our elementary
library imposes no fines - the principal wants it that way and in the high
school I too charge a $.05 a day fine with a maximum fine of $2.50. The
librarian before me did not follow through with the fine nor did I the first
year I was librarian for our school system.  When I did begin to impose a fine,
you should have heard the comments  (but not directly to me. Many students felt
I was using it to buy an afternoon pop. :-)
        We discussed this issue in my library classes and I have had mixed
emotions about it.  Yes, it is extremely time consuming to collect all the
fines that are due, but it also helps prod the students to get books turned in.
 A comment from an area public librarian helped me decide. She said you have to
have something over them in high school to make them responsible for the
materials they check out.  The key word is responsibility.  So many students
will not assume it and they need to learn it somewhere.  And so every grading
period I set forth to collect as much as I can and the money then is used to
replace stolen materials.
        I personally feel the fine is a necessary evil of the job. :-)

From:     Rita Kaikow  K12OCKZR@vaxc.hofstra.edu
        For many years I was a diehard regarding this issue.  I flatly refused
to discontinue charging overdue fines.  That was until I realized the futility
of it.  As you said, it caused us more grief than success.  We were convinced
that it actually contributed to books walking out the door without proper
authorization (If you get my meaning :-)).
        Our purpose is to provide information for our "clients" and hopefully
instill in them the "love" of discovery and the sense of cooperation that comes
from borrowing and returning on "time".  Have we licked the problem of overdue
materials?  That's a definite no.  What we have licked is the tug of war that
results when books are returned and fines are not paid.  Some students now
actually are apologetic when they return late books.  Of course, those are
usually the ones whose books are only a day or two late.
        Now what do we do with the other holdouts?  This year we have opted to
go the formal route with our Deans.  Books long overdue result in discipline
referrals and in-house detention. Are all of the books returned?  No - Well
there's always next time :-(.
        I'd like to know what others have done regarding those on the faculty
who are just as bad, if not worse than, as some of the students re: overdues.

From:  Lois Feldman    ab189@lafn.org
        I have to rely on fine money for my basic budget--it doubles the
amount of money I receive from the school's account.  The
overdue notices that are printed out from our computerized
circulation system, and before we had it, the notices that we
typed, include the price of the book.  Students who bring the
books back are always pleasantly surprised at the litle amount
of money charged compared to what's printed on the notice they
received.  Several years ago I went to 10 cents a day.

Linda Friel

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