Zero Fines Balance Required for Checkouts in 2011
Effective Jan. 1, Great River Regional Library (GRRL) patrons will need to have a zero balance on their library account in order to check out additional materials. When staff check out items for patrons, and when patrons try to download items from the digital library, the process will be halted if any fines or other charges are outstanding.
GRRL is changing its policy on fines to encourage payment by patrons with charges on their accounts. The change is being driven by increased pressure on library budgets.
Patron accounts accumulate charges when items are returned late or damaged or lost. Prompt return of items is encouraged to ensure that items are available to as many library patrons as possible and the library’s resources are used efficiently. Previously, library patrons were allowed to carry a balance of up to $6 on their library account without any effect on their borrowing; those who owed the library more than $6 needed to pay down their fines balance to $6 or less.
“The pressure on our budget is coming from two directions,” said Karen Pundsack, GRRL patron services coordinator. “Patrons have increased their use of our services and the budget is getting tighter. We can’t afford to have a large sum of money uncollected when budget revenue is falling. We need to know what we have to work with.”
The library began 2010 with approximately 133,700 cardholders. A check of patron accounts in November, 2010, showed that approximately 59,000 current and expired borrowers owed the library between $0 and $6 for a total of $163,771. Approximately 7,000 borrowers owed exactly $6 for a total of $42,204.
“The good thing about library fines is that they can be avoided,” Pundsack said. “We have generous checkout limits, but people do need to be responsible and keep track of what they have and when it needs to be returned.”
Test Proctoring Fee Introduced
GRRL will also begin charging for test proctoring in 2011. Libraries are designated as acceptable locations in which monitoring of exams may take place such as tests and quizzes for online classes. Staff at all 32 GRRL branches provide the service on request. Beginning in January, all GRRL locations will charge $10 per test.
Proctoring fees are being introduced because monitoring testing is time consuming and pulls staff away from core library activities.