The phrase of the day her at the library is “Many happy returns!” As many of you know, as of September 24th, your Sarasota County libraries are fine free. That’s right, no more fines for overdue materials. “Wait, wait, wait, wait,” you say, “won’t people just keep books out forever if they have no incentive to return them?” The answer is no, because there are now different, more effective, and more equitable incentives.
Patrons will get notices reminding them that their items are about to be due, and then that they are overdue. Once a book—or other material—is two weeks overdue, your library card will be put on pause, meaning you will not be able to place holds, check out materials, or use many of the digital resources. Additionally, a bill for the replacement cost of the item will be issued. That’s not as alarming as it sounds. Once the item is returned, the bill disappears, the patron owes nothing, and full library services are restored, to the relief and joy of all involved.
After 42 days, blocked accounts will be sent to a materials recovery agency, which adds an additional $10 service fee to the patron’s record. But there is still no need to panic. Once things are returned, the replacement fee disappears. The $10 fee remains, however, so mind your calendar.
The purpose of fines is to encourage people to return library items on time. It turns out, though, to be an ineffective strategy. Evidence from libraries across the country that have gone fine free shows that removing fines results in more books being returned on time, and an increase in library use as those of us for whom fines are a hardship can return to the library without fear or shame. In Sarasota County, 22% of library card holders were blocked from borrowing library materials because of fines. 24% of those card holders were between the ages of 5 and 18. That was not serving the mission of the library system, and here at Elsie Quirk, we are delighted and gleeful to welcome back users with open arms—or, rather, open books.
We invite you to come into the Elsie Quirk Library and celebrate the cessation of fines with a fist bump, an enthusiastic cheer, or a quite nod. Please ask us all of your questions about the fines free initiative, and share your perspective on it with us.
I would like to emphasize that no matter how many overdue items, or fees, anyone has on their card, everyone is welcome in the library to use the public computers, read the newspapers and magazines, browse, peruse, chat, ask reference questions, relax in the reading garden, or participate in the programs listed below.
- Spanish Study Group meets at 10:15 a.m.
- Forty Carrots Partners in Play 10:15 a.m. OR 11:45 a.m. For children, up to age 5 with a parent or caregiver. A free class for you and your child to enjoy together. Experience new educational activities, join in circle-time fun, meet other families and receive valuable parenting and child development information. Attendance is limited to 12 families per session.
- Monday Night Movies at 5 p.m. Tonight’s film is a classic baseball movie and unconventional love story. (Rated R, 2hrs) Contact the library for movie titles.
- Master Gardener Plant Clinic 10 a.m. – Noon. Get free answers to your Florida gardening and landscaping questions. This is made possible through a partnership with UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County.
- Health in Motion Bus 10 a.m – 3:00 p.m.
- LEGO Club 6:00 p.m. – 7:30. Children ages 5 to 12 will have fun getting together with others and sharing ideas, working together, and making new friends. LEGO bricks will be provided – bring your imagination. LEGO creations will be on display in the library until the next meeting date.
- Family Storytime at 10:30 a.m. For ages 0-5. Interact and participate with your child in a variety of early literacy and school readiness activities that feature stories, music and movement, and crafts.