Showcase – Bozeman Public Library

Showcase – Bozeman Public Library

Case Study

Bozeman Public Library

About the Library

Bozeman Public Library is located in southwest Montana serving a ca. 120,000 metro area. The library’s mission is to create opportunities that inspire curiosity, exploration and connection. The library aims to be the community cultural center that connects all Bozeman citizens to their neighbors and the world.

Becoming a Fine Free Library

As of January 2022, Bozeman Public Library eliminated daily fines for overdue materials including books and other media. The library also forgave all past overdue fines, bringing the single-location library in line with ALA guidance. The goal of this policy is to help provide more people with access.

BPL’s Director Susan Gregory said this about being a fine free library:

“We’re extremely happy to be fine-free because it encourages more people, especially our families and youngest patrons, to use the Library… Having Unique Management as a partner to recover our long overdue Library materials is not only effective but reassures our community that we’re holding people responsible for ultimately returning the Library materials.”


Even without fines, some patrons still had materials outstanding after the library’s internal notice processes. From April 2021 to March 2022 (after the switch to Fine Free), this represented 675 patrons with materials still outstanding after at least 60 days overdue and on average, these patrons had 3 items overdue.

While title information is never collected or shared due to privacy policies, they are by definition popular materials as they are being actively borrowed in the last 12 months.

Solution and Results

BPL understood that Unique’s Gentle Nudge Process and their fine free policy work extremely well together. The goals of both are exactly the same – to get materials back and patrons unblocked as users in good standing. In the last 12 months since the switch to Fine-free, that is exactly what the library has seen.

547 patrons have returned their materials with the help of Unique’s Gentle Nudge and are now users again in good standing. The total value of materials returned during this period is over $31,000 which equates to over 1,550 physical items. For perspective, if these materials were stacked on top of each other, it would be taller than the tower of Pisa!

Unique and Fine Free Libraries

“Our Gentle Nudge process aligns seamlessly with the fine free model and the needs of libraries like Bozeman Public Library. Our notices and scripts are designed to emphasize material recovery and getting patrons back into the library as users in good standing. It is great to see these results as a validation of those goals.”

-Andy Harp, Director of Customer Service

Is your library Fine Free? What are you doing to protect your collection?

Material Recovery is an important part of library operations. Let us handle the protection of your collection while your staff focuses on serving your patrons.

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