With a new year comes new policies, including Rock Island Public Library’s new fine free policy for its cardholders. With the new lending policy, late fines for Rock Island Public Library (RIPL) cardholders will be mostly a thing of the past.
Effective starting January 3, 2023, RIPL cardholders will not be charged a daily late fine on most overdue materials, with the exception of certain specialty items. Mobile hotspots and mobile streaming devices, cultural passes, and Library of Things collections will still accrue late fines when overdue. Items checked out in 2022 and returned late in 2023 may still collect overdue fines. For questions, please contact library staff.
The new policy isn’t a free pass. Library representatives note that items still need to be returned, and that lost, damaged, processing, and collection fees will still be charged, if necessary. “Items will still have due dates, and we encourage patrons to pay attention and return our items in a timely manner. For our cardholders that do lose track of the date, there’s no overdue penalty,” says Christina Nobiling, RIPL Director of Circulation Services.
The Fine Free policy does not include replacement costs or damaged items. Items kept too long will be counted as lost, with the replacement cost billed to a patron’s account. To encourage returns before that happens, courtesy notices and friendly reminder notices will continue. “Another good way to keep track of what you have checked out is the PrairieCat mobile app and the PrairieCat catalog website,” added Nobiling.
The Fine Free policy will “follow” Rock Island patrons who use other libraries, but the reverse is not true for patrons of other libraries. Cardholders of non-Fine Free libraries will still incur overdue fines for late returns.
Thanks to a year of preparation and planning, Rock Island is launching the new policy a year earlier than planned. Fine free lending is a growing trend of libraries across the nation, and is part of the Rock Island Library’s 2022-2025 Strategic Plan. The Rock Island Public Library Foundation pledged more than $4,000 in 2023 Birdies for Charity proceeds to the fine free cause. Rock Island also hosted eight “Fine Free Friday” events in 2022 to encourage returns. The efforts brought back 680 items, and waived nearly $1,776 of overdue changes.
Overdue fines account for less than one percent of the Library’s overall budget, noted Angela Campbell, Director of the Rock Island Public Library. “Rather than motivating returns, fines are a source of anxiety that block people from coming back. As a matter of equity, we want our entire community to benefit from our lifelong learning opportunities. Libraries that have eliminated overdue fines have seen an increase in returns, and more use of library materials, and that’s the result we want to see, too. With a new fine-free policy for our cardholders, more 150th anniversary events, and a new branch projected to open later in January, 2023 really is the Year of the Library in Rock Island,” she added.
Previous overdue fines have been purged, but replacement charges, processing fees, damages, or collection fees will remain on accounts. “If it’s been a while since you’ve used your card, call us,” said Christina Nobiling. “We’ll be happy to discuss options for reactivating your card.”
The full Fine Free Lending policy is available under the policies section of the library website, and from library staff upon request. For questions about using your Rock Island Public Library card, contact the Circulation Desk at 309-732-READ, or use the Contact Us options at the library website.