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From the Library – Irondequoit Public Library Eliminates Fines for All Children’s and Young Adult Materials

Many public libraries across the country have eliminated late fees in an effort to promote literacy and readership. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and its financial hardships, here in our local community, the Irondequoit Public Library is especially eager to remove this barrier for families who may be struggling.

Thanks to a generous grant and effective immediately, the Irondequoit Public Library is instituting a two-year pilot to eliminate fines for all children’s and young adult materials. This means that no late fees will be charged for items borrowed from IPL’s children’s or teen libraries.

Youth is a critical time for developing a love of reading and learning. IPL hopes that by removing access barriers for our youngest community members, IPL will help shape future readers, thinkers, and change agents.

Please click the “Read More” link to learn more about our fine elimination program.


Fine Elimination FAQ

In March 2021, the Irondequoit Public Library (IPL) plans to eliminate fines for all youth materials. At its heart, the fine elimination program is about access. This is a unique opportunity to lead the way in Monroe County with a fiscally and socially responsible policy that ensures inclusive access for our children and young adult patrons. It will work to ensure that overdue library charges do not turn younger readers away from continued library patronage, as evidence suggests such fines may have that negative effect.

What items are included in the fine elimination program?

All children’s and young adult materials that belong to the Irondequoit Public Library.

Fine elimination is tied to materials, not borrower type. For example:

  • Adult materials checked out on a child’s or teen’s card are still subject to fines;
  • Children and young adult materials checked out on an adult’s card are not subject to fines.

What is the fiscal impact to IPL’s operating budget?

Financial aid was secured by former Assembly Majority Leader Morelle (now Congressman Joe Morelle Sr.), and will help to offset any potential budget shortages.

Additional revenue will be realized through the increased cost of black and white copies from $0.15 to $0.20 per page, and an anticipated increase in the usage of these and faxing services.

Will due dates be ignored if there are no fines?

Studies have demonstrated that cutting fines does not increase overdue materials. The Rochester Public Library eliminated fines on children and young adult materials two years ago and have only experienced increased use of the library, not increased loss of materials.

Additionally, patrons are still financially responsible for items that go “lost”, which occurs when an item is 42 days overdue.

Does this impact children and young adults developing a sense of responsibility?

The library’s role is to encourage lifelong learning, exploration, and innovation.

IPL asks that families, friends and community members help kids to develop a sense of responsibility in returning the borrowed books, in a timely fashion to the library.

Is there an impact to wait times for items?

The IPL Team is constantly reviewing the hold requests and circulation statistics for library materials. Wait times for items will be analyzed and additional materials can be ordered based on demand for items.

Fines and fees have not been demonstrated to increase the likelihood of returning overdue material, nor does the removal of fines and fees lead to an increase in overdue materials. IPL does not expect an impact on the wait times for items due to this pilot program.

Finally, the Monroe County Library System (MCLS) is a cooperative sharing library system. Whenever a hold is placed on an item, the reservation system places the request out to all MCLS libraries with available copies. The first library to respond to the request fulfills the hold. So even if the Irondequoit item is delayed, there are other libraries that can still fulfill the request.

What about materials for adults?

At its heart, the fine elimination program is about access. Ultimately, IPL wants everyone in our community to have barrier-free access to the enriching collections and services that IPL offers.

However, as with any change, there needs to be a trial period to work out any issues and gain a deeper understanding of impact. IPL decided to start with eliminating fines on children and young adult materials because youth is a critical time for developing a love of reading and learning. IPL hopes that by removing access barriers for our youngest community members, IPL will help shape future readers, thinkers, and change agents.

After instituting fine and fee elimination for children and young adult materials, IPL will evaluate how it has impacted our community. IPL will use these results to make decisions about the continuation and expansion of the program.

How are you measuring the success of this program?

The IPL Board and IPL Team (staff) will track and report several measures to determine the success of the Pilot, modeled after the Rochester Public Library’s pilot for fine elimination:

  • Circulation statistics for children and young adults
  • Number / percent of children and young adult patrons sent to collections
  • Number / percent of children and young adult materials returned (on time and altogether)
  • Number / percent of children and young adult materials categorized as lost
  • Number / percent of children and young adult patrons with borrowing privileges suspended
  • Number / percent of children and young adult library card renewals
  • Number / percent of new library cards for children and young adults

These metrics will be reviewed both on their own and against a previous period of performance when the fines and fees were instituted.

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