Giddings Public Library and Cultural Center
City Council votes to end library overdue fines
The Giddings City Council voted Feb. 13, 2023, to eliminate daily overdue fines at the Giddings Public Library. (Click here to read the report submitted to the Council by the library director.)
Studies show that daily overdue fines discourage library use and cause patrons to hold onto library books long past their due date.
Libraries that eliminate overdue fines report a significant increase in on-time book return. We believe that eliminating overdue fines will have a positive effect in our community. Library usage will likely increase. Books will circulate faster. Most importantly, eliminating fines will engender a good relationship between the library, the City government, and the community.
We're delighted to join the growing movement of fine-free libraries.
But what happens if people just don't return library books; that's not fair!
We agree ... it's not fair when library books are unreturned. Because we're tasked with wisely utilizing taxpayer funding, we must have a reasonable failsafe for recovering lost library materials. Overdue fines simply do not encourage the on-time return of library books. Below are the steps the library takes to recover library materials and ensure the collection remains available for the entire community.
Members receive a 3-day warning
Library members who sign up for text notifications receive a text-message reminder three days in advance of their due date.
Eligible materials are automatically renewed
Rather than allowing eligible books to become overdue, as a courtesy, all items eligible for renewal are automatically renewed on their due date if they have not been returned to the library. There are four cases in which an item is not renewable: 1) The item is "new" to the library; 2) The item has already been checked out for 28 days or longer; 3) The item is on reserve for another member; 4) The account is suspended because of overdue items or an outstanding balance.
Members receive overdue notification
Library members receive a notification, either by text or phone, when their items are 2 days overdue. Members have been in possession of the materials for 16-30 days. Items may still be returned in the next 10 days with no penalty. Overdue fines do not accrue. Member accounts are suspended when members have 5 overdue library materials. Suspended accounts are not eligible to check out additional materials until overdue items have been returned.
Members receive first overdue letter
Members have been in possession of the materials for 28-42 days, and items have been overdue for 14 days. Members now receive an overdue letter. A $2 letter fee is assessed to offset processing costs. Overdue items may be returned within 14 days of the first overdue letter with no additional penalty. Overdue fines do not accrue. The total owed to the library is $2. The member account is suspended until items are returned and letter fee is paid.
Members receive second overdue letter
Members have been in possession of materials for 45-59 days, and items have been overdue for 31 days. Unreturned items are now considered lost. The library purchases replacements, and members are responsible for the full replacement cost of unreturned items. A $2 letter fee is assessed to offset processing costs. Items are no longer eligible for return since the library has purchased replacements. (Items returned after the library has purchased replacements are considered donations to the library.) The member account remains suspended until the balance is paid. Library members have 30 days to pay their account balance. When the account balance is paid, the member account is reinstated with a checkout limit of 5 items. The total owed to the library is $4, plus the actual cost of the library materials.
Unpaid balances are remanded to an account-recovery agency
When accounts remain unpaid 30 days after the second overdue letter, accounts are remanded to an account-recovery agency for collection. The member is responsible for the fees assessed by the agency (currently 30 percent of the total account balance).* Member accounts remain suspended until balance is paid. When account balance is paid, the member account is reinstated with a checkout limit of 5 items. After one year of on-time material-return history, upon request, the member may return to the standard checkout limit.
*For example, at this stage, if a member has four unreturned books with a replacement value of $25 each, she owes the library $100 for the books ($25 x 4), plus $2 for each letter fee assessed in previous stages ($2 x 2) for a total of $104. Then the account-recovery agency assesses a 30 percent fee of $31.20 ($104 x .30). The total now owed is $135.20 ($104 + $31.20). This total is paid directly to the agency. The library only receives the original balance of $104 from the account-recovery agency.
Repeat overdue accounts are suspended for one year
When an account is in arrears for an amount greater than $99, OR has two separate incidents of library materials overdue for 31 days, the account is suspended for one year. Members with suspended accounts may not check out library materials. One year after the account balance is paid, upon request, the member account may be reinstated with a checkout limit of 5 items. Subsequently, after one year of on-time material-return history, the member may request to return to the standard checkout limit.