Troy Public Library, MI

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Troy Public Library TPL is Fine Free

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TPL is Fine Free


Troy Public Library is pleased to announce that late fines for most materials have been eliminated. Learn more about this policy change below.

Fine-Free TPL: Hospitality, Community, Customer Service
In an effort to encourage patrons to return to the building after the recent closure due to Covid-19, as well as to improve customer service and create a more hospitality-based atmosphere, TPL is now fine free.

By eliminating most late fines, TPL hopes to accomplish the following goals:

  • Encourage patrons to readily use the library.
  • Foster good will with the community by showing trust that they will return items.
  • Create a positive, rather than punitive, association for the library with our patrons.
  • Cultivate an atmosphere where staff can concentrate on improving customer service and providing positive interactions with our community.
  • Eliminate any budgetary burden on patrons, as fines will no longer be a source of revenue (patrons already support the library through its dedicated millage).
  • Remove monetary barriers to access, a tenet of the public library as an institution.
  • Continue a policy that has been in practice for two years (due to the building closure) which has been shown to work well.

What Does Fine Free Mean?
Fine free means Troy Public Library will no longer collect late fines for most items that are overdue. However, late fines will still be collected for HITS items (books, DVDs and Blu-rays, and music CDs), Kindles, Mobile Hotspots, and Interlibrary Loan items. Due dates and return policies will still apply. If an item does not have a hold on it, it will be automatically renewed up to three additional times. If an item is on hold it is not eligible for renewal and needs to be returned. If an item reaches its due date plus 15 days, it will be marked as lost, and the patron’s borrowing privileges will be frozen until the item is replaced, or the borrower pays a replacement fee for the material plus any additional processing fees.

Frequently Asked Questions
When did TPL cease charging late fines?
To reduce burden on the community, TPL ceased charging late fines during the closure in early 2020 due to Covid-19. Upon reopening, the policy was extended during the  transitional period. TPL officially became fine free on April 3, 2022.

Are there any exceptions to the fine free rule?
Yes! Although most of our items will be classified as fine free, there are some which will not be. Those include HITS items (books, DVDs and Blu-rays, and music CDs), as they are high-demand items that are meant to circulate quickly so the next patron can have access. Kindles and Mobile Hotspots from the technology collection will also still incur fines to ensure access. Also, items inter-loaned from other libraries will remain subject to fines as outlined by MeLCat.

Items with Fines
 HITs Items & MeL Loans  $1/day
 Kindles & Hotspots  $5/day

What about items borrowed from other libraries through MelCat?
Items from other libraries will be charged overdue fines per MeLCat policy.

How will borrowers know when to return items?
The initial due dates will still be printed on receipts and sent by email or text message depending on a borrower’s preferred communication. In the case of holds on the item, or any additional due date extensions, patrons will also receive notices via email or text. A list of due dates by item types can be found in the Loan Periods & Fees policy.

Will the library get their materials back if there are no late fines?
Results from other fine free libraries, as well as TPL’s two years without fines, indicates that most patrons continue to return their items, and we expect this trend to continue. 

How will this impact hold wait times?
In the last two years without fines, TPL has seen no significant increase in hold wait times. Also, librarians constantly review the number of people waiting for holds, and will continue the practice of purchasing extra copies of materials accordingly. 

What will stop a borrower from keeping an item out forever?
As stated above, due dates are still in effect. If an item is not on hold for another borrower, it will be automatically renewed up to three times. Once the material reaches its renewal limit, or has a hold on it, borrowers must return within 15 days of the due date or the item will be marked as lost and the borrower must pay the cost of the item and processing fee. The same applies for damaged items, or patrons may provide a replacement copy.

Will I still receive reminders to return my items to TPL?
Automatic renewals still occur on eligible material 2 days before the item due date. To encourage the timely return of library material, patrons will continue to receive courtesy overdue notices. You may notice an accelerated timing in receiving notices. These notices will now run on the following schedule:

 Reminder Notice  2 days before item is due
 Overdue Notice  2, 7, and 10 days overdue
 Overdue Bill   15 days overdue
 Fine Notice    30 days overdue

April 2022 will be considered an amnesty month for lost material. We are encouraging all patrons to return any material that has aged to lost on their account. Simply return the material during this time and all fees will be removed from your account.

How will this impact the library’s budget?
In the past when late fines were collected, they only accounted for less than 1% of the budget. In addition, the revenue from late fees were never intended to serve as a steady stream of budgetary revenue, as patrons already fund the library through the dedicated millage. If patrons do wish to further support the library, there are a number of donation avenues they may contribute to.

Here’s to many happy returns!