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We’re Now Fines Free!

Beginning August 15, 2019, the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries will no longer charge overdue fines for items returned late.

While patrons will still be responsible for the replacement cost for lost items, they will not be charged a daily fee while the items are overdue. Previously CVL charged 25 cents per day per item as an overdue fine.

What does this mean for me? Beginning August 15, 2019

  • There will no longer be a daily late fine for items that are kept past their due date.
  • All overdue fines and late fees will be cleared from patron accounts.
  • With the new auto-renewal policy that went into effect in May 2019, all eligible items will be automatically renewed for up to four checkout periods (there are exceptions, please see the FAQ below for details).
  • Patrons will still be responsible to pay the replacement cost for lost items.
  • Accounts sent to a collection agency will have a $15.00 fee.

CVL is one of many library systems nationwide that are eliminating overdue fees. Studies have shown that these fines create a barrier to library use, especially among those with lower incomes who can benefit most from the many instructional services and programs offered by public libraries. Indeed, fully 25% of new card holders stop using the library once a fine appears.

In addition, these same studies show overdue fines do not act as a deterrent to returning items late.

Further, the minimal revenue generated by the fines (currently less than 1% of CVL’s operating budget) are more than offset by the positive community impacts that increased library use provides, including greater employment opportunities which can lead to a growth in the tax base for the area.

The elimination of fines has been proven to have a positive impact on library services in those communities that have adopted it. The number of items borrowed has increased, while the number not returned has remained at the same level or decreased.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

I currently owe the library money. Does this mean I won’t owe money in August?

 

We are eliminating the overdue fees and processing fees on August 15th, and these will be removed from your account. As is with current policy, if items have not been returned and they are more than 42 days overdue, you will be responsible to pay the replacement cost. If you find the items, you can return them at any time and your account will be cleared.

Will a block be placed on my account if I have overdue items? If so, what does this mean?

If items are no longer eligible for auto-renewal they must be returned by their due date. Any items kept past this date will be considered overdue and a block will be placed on the account. This means additional items may not be checked out and library computer use will not be available until the items are returned or replaced.

What is the auto-renewal policy?

CVL now auto-renews all print items, DVDs/CDs and Audiobooks on CD that are checked out. This means that if an item is eligible for renewal and no other patron has requested the item, it will be automatically renewed for an additional loan period (2 weeks for books, 1 week for DVDs and CDs). Auto-renewal does not apply to Education Kits, Attraction Passes, Launchpads, or items available electronically via CVLGA.org (including Overdrive, Hoopla, and RB Digital books and magazines). It also does not include materials checked out from our automated 24-Hour Libraries in Midland and Double Churches.

What about audio and electronic books, music and movies that I check out from your website with my card?

These items will automatically return to the libraries on their due date; there’s no need for any additional action on your part. As they automatically return they are not subject to overdue or lost fees or replacement cost.

What is the replacement cost of an item?

This is the actual cost to the library to replace the item with a similar copy to the item lost. For instance, a hardback edition of a novel will need to be replaced with another hardback edition. This replacement cost will be indicated on the patron account once the item is determined to be lost.

When is an item determined to be lost?

Items that are more than 42 days overdue will be marked as lost and the patron will be sent a bill for the replacement cost. This can be paid by mail, at any branch of CVL, or with a credit card online at CVLGA.org.

What if I find the items after 42 days overdue? Can I still return them and avoid paying the replacement cost?

YES! You may return the items at any time before paying the replacement cost. They will be cleared from your account and, if no other items are overdue, your account will be taken off of blocked status.

What if I pay the replacement cost but then find the items? Can I return them and get a refund?

We will refund the replacement cost if the items are returned within 6 months of the payment.

Will my account be sent to a collection agency if I do not pay the replacement cost? Is there an additional cost?

After items are overdue 42 days, a bill for the replacement cost will be sent to the patron’s address. In addition, attempts will be made to contact the patron by e-mail or phone. If the account balance remains above $25.00 28 days after the bill is sent, the account will be referred to a collection agency that specializes in Library Asset Recovery. This agency does not report accounts to credit reporting bureaus. Accounts sent to a collection agency will be responsible for a $15.00 collection fee plus payment on the account balance.

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