SHARE member libraries were surveyed to explore different options for an updated payment and billing policy for collecting fines. When patrons travel from the home library to another SHARE public library (reciprocal borrowing), they sometimes have fines that need to be paid before they can check out materials. The current policy states that fines can be kept by the transacting library, with fees for lost or damaged items sent to the owning library.
With the existing policy, it is not clear if fine-free libraries should either accept fines, even though they are fine-free; waive the fines, since it is their revenue; or accept the fines and send the revenue on to the patron’s home library. This has caused some confusion between members.
The member survey analysis did not provide a clear member preference, so the SHARE Circulation & Resource Sharing Committee and SHARE staff looked at this question from these angles:
- What would cause the least disruption or change from existing policy?
- What would cause the least amount of work for member libraries?
- What would be in line with previous recommendations and SHARE philosophy?
- We want to encourage the best possible customer service for all SHARE patrons.
- We place a high emphasis on library autonomy and the right for libraries to manage their own patrons.
- We do not want to encourage patrons “library shopping” or put our member libraries in conflict with each other.
1. Waiving Fines
The home library is responsible for any decisions regarding changes to a patron’s account since they have issued the fines. This follows current SHARE policy regarding patron blocks: “Any block established via the patron record will not be overridden by a transacting library.” This recommendation is based on the SHARE philosophy of library autonomy and the right for member libraries to make independent decisions about their patrons and their items. This is also to prevent patrons from gaming the system.
Suggestion to add to the existing Payments Policy: Unless the patron is changing jurisdictions, the decision to waive a fine for overdue items belongs to the home library. Do you agree/disagree? Should there be a set amount where the transacting libraries can waive fines?
2. Collecting Fees at the Transacting Library
Suggestion: The transacting library should allow patrons to clear their record by paying amounts owed. This provides good customer service and is in line with existing SHARE Managing Overdue and Lost Items procedures.
3. Keep or Mail Fines
Suggestion: The transacting library may keep paid fines, even if they are a fine-free library, though they can choose to develop a local policy to set a threshold and send fines to the home library. This again respects local autonomy, while also keeping the solution simple and in line with our current Payments and Billings policy: Any fine collection by reciprocal lending libraries may be kept by the transacting library. Libraries may choose to set a specific threshold and return fines above the limit to the loaning library. They may deduct postage and handling fees.
Please submit member comments about the above suggestions by December 7, 2022. All member comments will be reviewed and a decision will be made at the next SHARE Circulation & Resource Sharing Committee meeting on December 8, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. All members are welcome to attend. Please register in L2.