Common Library Staff Question: We are a fine free library. Why do we need Unique?
Unique is addressing some of the most commonly asked questions librarians and library staff have about our services and library practices.
Is your library fine free? The American Library Association officially took the position that public libraries should eliminate fines surrounding overdue library materials in 2019, but does that mean your library doesn’t need Unique? Not quite.
Fines address late materials retroactively, where Gentle Nudge® takes a different angle to the patron-library relationship. Our proactive and diverse communications go hand-in-hand with the fine free model.
Ready for the future
Material recovery has always been the focus of our Gentle Nudge® service. While fines have historically been associated with recovered accounts, they have never been an integral part of the process. The pivot in recent years to a fine free model by many libraries introduced a natural evolution to our process, and our fine free specific letters were written with this in mind.
The benefits around removing fines are numerous and well-circulated, what is not as well understood is how to further boost your circulation numbers.
The missing piece of the puzzle
Cutting fines overall gets more people to return books and unblock patrons, but what about those patrons who are unable to return books in a timely manner, despite eliminating the punitive fines? This is where Unique comes in.
Eliminating fines gets most people to bring books back, but those who still don’t return their materials need a different approach. Our specialty is in those hard-to-reach patrons.
With our specific approach with letters, messages, and phone calls, let us handle the legwork of unblocking patrons while you focus your energy where it matters: on your library.
Want to learn more about our Gentle Nudge® service? Visit our page here.
Have a staff question of your own? Let us know on Facebook or LinkedIn.
Dawn Wacek, a librarian in Wisconsin, gave this Ted Talk in 2018. Her words stick with us when thinking about fine free library access. Watch:
One thought on ““We are a fine free library. Why do we need Unique?””
A Community College in Oklahoma, now known as Oklahoma City Community College, Learning Resources Center, where I worked in the 70’s and early 80’s had no fines. One way we encouraged people to return the items was a campaign to give away a coupon for an item at McDonalds for returned books. It worked! Most people don’t plan to keep library books. They just oppose the fines and ugliness associated with them. A friendly phone call to remind them that they need to be returned so others can use them, goes along way. We had a very bright Head Librarian, Charlotte French, that was way ahead of the times.