I apologize for thread-jacking, but I would like to agree with Brooke and
say a little more about the bad policy of late fees.  The primary metrics
libraries judge themselves by are all related to usage.  Late fees are a
very strong and very direct deterrent to usage.  I know several friends and
family members that love going to the library but now avoid it because they
are afraid of some old late fees.  Was the $20 for some late items really
worth it to the library to keep a single mother and her four daughters away
from the library for the past several years?  These are the people
libraries should be helping the most, yet they are the most likely to be
penalized.  A single parent leads a busy (sometimes hectic) life and will
very likely return items past an arbitrary due date.  They are also on a
tighter budget and are less likely to be able to pay.

Something similar can be said for academic libraries and poor students. At
GW, the students have a $50 "library gift" line item on their tuition bill
that they can easily opt out of.  How many students keep that $50 out of
spite because they were angry about silly late fees they got the previous

If you're worried about people never returning things, just send them a
bill after the grace period for the full replacement cost and I'm pretty
sure you'll see those items returned promptly.


Joshua Gomez
Digital Library Programmer Analyst
George Washington University Libraries
2130 H St, NW Washington, DC 20052
(202) 994-8267

On Sun, May 19, 2013 at 8:56 AM, BWS Johnson <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

> Salvete!
> > Libraries charge to lend books.
>     Some, by no means all. It's also generally limited to newer materials.
> It's universally stupid to do this, in my opinion. The folks that can pay
> are already buying copies, and we're hurting the patrons that can't pay.
> > Late fines are almost universal, and lost
> > items will result in a charge for replacement costs.
>     What are we getting for our charges? Is this go away mentality worth
> it? Is this helping or hurting us in the relevancy arena? It's definitely
> hurting in the fundraising department, which is precisely where it's meant
> to help. Every budget I've seen has not netted enough in charging for
> extras to offset the actual costs they're seeking to cover. So with that in
> mind, why are we doing this? Our patrons rightfully see these as nuisance
> fees. If we're doing it to avoid abuse, which is why I assume a lot of
> these are implemented, there are usually better ways to go about that.
> Cheers,
> Brooke