Going fine free - dos and don'ts?

We’re going fine free in September! For those that have been through this process – can you share some insight? How did you prepare? What did you learn after the fact you wish you would have known prior? Any tips/tricks, guidance, or SQLs to help me make this as smooth as possible for our organization would be very appreciated!

You might also want to check out some previous presentations on the topic.

Thanks, Wes! I did that too. :smiling_face:

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We’ve been fines-free since Jan. 1, 2021 - so still during COVID adjustments for us. We’re part of a consortium so we had to navigate that as well (not all consortium members went fines-free at the same time and there are still members that charge fines). Things we did / considered:

  • We had a lot of older fines / fees on our system that were just cluttering up the database. These were from previous ILSes and could be identified fairly easily. We chose to waive those fines and fees and received Board approval for doing so (since we were writing them off).

  • Any patron or item records associated with those waived fines / fees that qualified for deletion from the system were deleted. This cleaned up a lot of detritus from the database.

  • For the patron records that remained, we also went looking for older notes fields that were related to fines / fees or our appeals process. Older notes were removed to allow customers to start fresh.

  • We considered whether there were any items that were exempt from the fines-free policy and determined that there were: our art rental collection. We wrote up the reasoning for the public.

  • We discussed with our consortium partners about how we should handle the library systems that were going to keep charging fines / fees. We determined that we needed to keep the appropriate Fine Codes in place on our item records and notified our materials vendors accordingly.

  • Our consortium also determined that fines would be charged based on the transaction location and not item owning location or patron home location.

  • We prepared both customer and staff communication explaining why we were making this change, when customer’s would get charged fines, that replacement costs were still in place, and why this wouldn’t be a risk to the collection.

Reports, SQL, and processes were handled by our Consortium. I hope this helps!