Do I still have to pay a fine that was on my account prior to Calvert Library’s “fine-free” trial?​

If your home library was a Calvert Library location on March 1, 2019, old fines were waived.

Fines have been waived, so why does my account still have a balance?

While Calvert Library is doing away with late fees, you will still need to pay for lost or damaged materials. You may also have charges on your account for copying, printing or faxing.

What happens when I return items in another county?

Late fees are determined by the location where you checked the item out. If you checked items out in Calvert, then no late fees will accrue.

How will the Library get people to return borrowed materials?

“No late fees” does not mean “no responsibility.” Fourteen (14) days after the final due date, materials that are not returned will be considered lost and customers will be billed the replacement cost of each item. Customers may return materials to have lost fees canceled.  If an account has charges of $25 or more, borrowing privileges are suspended and approximately (60) days after the final due date, the account will be referred to a materials recovery service and a non-waivable $10 fee will be added to the account.  Borrowing privileges for library cards will be restored when materials are returned and/or the balance is paid in full.

Will I still receive reminders about returning materials?

You will receive reminders if you have provided an email address and selected “email notification.”  You are strongly encouraged to supply an email address to receive detailed library notifications.  The library can also send text messages, however they contain limited information.

  • 3 Days Before Due Date: Reminder Email
  • 7 Days After Due Date: Reminder Email
  • 14 Days After Due Date: Item considered lost, bill emailed for replacement cost
  • 21 Days After Due Date: Paper notice of billing mailed to “mail only” customers
  • 29 Days After Due Date: Paper bill mailed to “mail only” customers

How is the Calvert Library budget affected by the loss of fine income?

Late fees make up less than one percent of the library’s annual budget.  The income collected from fines was deposited to the county general fund.  The library has begun providing passport services to provide income for the county and service for the community.

Do you still offer auto renewal?

Yes, we are still offering our convenient auto-renewal system. This means that eligible items will be automatically renewed three days before their due date. Most items can be renewed up to four times.

Auto-renewal doesn’t work with:

  • Items that have been placed on hold (requested) by another customer
  • Items that have reached their renewal limit
  • Express and digital items
  • Blocked library accounts – customers with a balance of $25 or more will be blocked from renewing, checking out, placing holds, or downloading digital materials.

Why did you run a trial?

Before committing to a permanent change in policy, the Board of Library Trustees wanted to gather data about the impact on circulation and library use.  Calvert Library’s experience matched the research and outcomes reported by other libraries who have eliminated fines.

During our fine-free trial, we found that customers still returned their items in a timely manner, customer interactions with staff were more positive and the staff savings are estimated to be twice as high as the fine revenue we were collecting. Staff spent quite a lot of time researching, explaining and negotiating fines for customers. They also spent time in the collection, cash/credit handling and entering of the payment into the system.  Daily cash reconciliation done by supervisors has been simplified as well.  We estimate these tasks cost over $76,000 compared to fine revenue of approximately $35,000 per year.

Fines are a barrier to accomplishing the library’s mission to “empower individuals by facilitating lifelong learning and strengthen our community by providing opportunities for connection to one another and the world.” Eliminating that barrier opens doors to all in our community to utilize the resources the library offers. The American Library Association released a resolution at their 2019 Midwinter meeting titled “Resolution on Monetary Library Fines as a Form of Social Inequity” urging libraries to scrutinize their practices of imposing fines and “actively move towards eliminating them.”  In 2018, librarian Dawn Wacek presented a 14-minute TEDTalk that gives a great overview of the impact of library fines on community.