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Changes Coming to Overdue Fine Rates at Local Libraries

MEDIA RELEASE - For immediate release 
Date: May 12, 2017

Contact: Jodi Nielsen, Senior Program Educator

Changes Coming to Overdue Fine Rates at Local Libraries

Children’s materials to become fine FREE effective June 1, 2017

Overdue fine rate for Young Adult and Adult materials to become $0.25 per day effective July 1

Washington County, Oregon:  The Washington County Cooperative Library Services (WCCLS) is pleased to announce that beginning June 1 all children’s materials in all formats will no longer incur overdue fines. This June 1 change coincides with the 2017 Summer Reading kick-off. As WCCLS Director, Eva Calcagno noted, “we’re hoping families will sign up their children knowing that the barrier of fines is going away. We want all Washington County kids to read this summer.”

Overdue fine rates are attached to the intended audience of the material, not the age of the patron, so all materials with a Children’s (Juvenile) material type will become fine free regardless of who checks them out. This helps families that prefer to use one card for all their checkouts, or parents, teachers, home-schoolers and others who use early literacy and children’s materials.

Director Calcagno states, “We know from research, and from daily interactions with our patrons, that fear of having to pay overdue fines prevents some families from allowing their children to use the library. We are eliminating overdue fines on children’s materials because we want to encourage ALL children to use the library, to explore library collections and become lifelong readers.” 

What is not changing is that WCCLS will continue to bill patrons for replacement charges for all materials that are never returned, or are lost or damaged. The fine structure changes are a balance between reducing barriers and maintaining responsibility for use of library materials. 

WCCLS will implement a second fine rate change on July 1st. Fine rates for Young Adult and Adult materials in all formats will become $0.25 per day effective July 1, 2017. The WCCLS member libraries have undertaken this change to simplify the policy - charging one rate of $0.25 per day for Young Adult and Adult materials, regardless of format. Fine rates for print and recorded materials had not been adjusted since 2003 and the video fine rate has been the same since the 1980's. It is important to note that the fine rate changes will exclude some unique materials which may include items such as admission passes, equipment, puppets, board games, Kill-A-Watts, tote bags, and the Library of Things (at Hillsboro). 

The overwhelming majority of patrons return materials on time. The majority of library materials are returned on time and only a small percentage are ever overdue. A recent WCCLS snapshot report noted that countywide 3.7% of checked out items were overdue or, 96.3% of checked out items are NOT overdue. 

WCCLS assesses fines as an incentive to return materials, not as a punishment or to generate revenue. According to Director Calcagno, “this year, the total revenue from all overdue fines is projected to equal 1.8% of total countywide library operating expenses, and projected fines from Children’s materials will account for less than 1%.”

Fine revenue has been declining for some time. Over the years WCCLS has increased the number of options that help patrons avoid incurring fines. This includes increasing the number of renewals allowed on each item and increasing loan periods for some formats. WCCLS also offers easy ways to renew by phone or online, email and text reminders to return items before they are due, expanded e-book collections that never become overdue, and many libraries offer amnesty or “Food for Fines” days. 

If you have fines currently on your account library staff are willing to work with you to get your account cleaned up so you can use the library again. If you return long overdue materials, staff will waive the replacement charges (we really do just want the materials back). If you are embarrassed, put them in a book drop – no questions asked! 

By making changes at this time WCCLS will eliminate barriers for children’s use of the library and maintain modest incentives to encourage timely return of other materials. If you are unsure which items will, or will not, have overdue fines, we encourage patrons to ask staff for help.  

Make this a summer of reading!


The Washington County Cooperative Library Services (WCCLS) includes: Banks Public Library, Beaverton City Library, Beaverton City Library @ Murray Scholls, Cedar Mill Community Library, Cedar Mill Community Library @ Bethany, Cornelius Public Library, Forest Grove City Library, Garden Home Community Library, Hillsboro Public Libraries (Main and Shute Park), North Plains Public Library, Sherwood Public Library, Tigard Public Library, Tualatin Public Library, and West Slope Community Library. Two specialty libraries are also a part of the Cooperatives library card service — the Oregon College of Art & Craft and the Tuality Health Education Resource Center.