Tag Archives: Research

Are “Fine Free” Public Libraries Really Better For the City of St Paul?

Up until the new year I was a fine-paying public library patron, as many people in St Paul were.  I paid my fines, it was painful, it didn’t seem fair, but I paid them. This was the case up until recently when St Paul Public Libraries went “fine free”.  The fines I paid over the years happened because had I forgotten or I didn’t have the time to turn in materials. Each time I thought: next time, I would remember to bring my materials in before they were overdue, given the opportunity.  I would change for the better from this lesson. However, there won’t be next time in St Paul, these fine events are something many people will no longer experience. And in being unable to accrue library fines in St Paul, I found out that lack of in-depth research and hopeful positive intentions are perhaps why it is that way.  Let me share with you some research on the topic and you decide on fines or no fines at the public library, what you learn through data from fines studies may surprise you, I was certainly surprised.

The St Paul Public Library’s “Fine Free” webpage asks the question: Why go fine free?”  and they answer: “It’s good for our community. Our community is stronger and healthier when people have access to the programs, services, and materials they need to pursue their educational, career, family, and life goals. We hope this will encourage prior users to come back to the library and attract new users to experience our offerings.”  All of these hopes and aspirations may have good intentions, but does ending fines and fees at the public library help our community? Does it make our community stronger and healthier? Does it allow for more programs, services, and materials that patrons need to pursue their educational, career, and life goals?  Let’s look at a few studies and find out.

On the St Paul Public Library’s (SPPL) website (https://sppl.org/about-fine-free/) it states that: “Late fines are not effective. Studies have shown that small fines have no impact on return rates. According to “Removing Barriers to Access,” a Colorado State Library whitepaper: “The scant research on the impact of library fines and fees does not indicate a clear benefit to administering these polices and may be costly to enforce.”  This line is directly taken from “Removing Barriers to Access” research which is not a peer reviewed journal, which ironically, provides many references to prove the ineffectiveness of fines while providing zero references on the effectiveness of fines and fees, further suggesting there is more than “scant research” and perhaps exposing an information bias.  

Moreover, SPPL’s “Fine Free” webpage cites this single study on the effectiveness of fines and fees, but there has to be more to the story than “scant research”.  Simply suggesting with a broad generalization that there is a lack of research on library fines does not prove that those fines are ineffective–or effective, especially when citing only one study.  This study proves that one side of the argument might show a result happened in this single study or other case studies under certain conditions, based on other studies with the same opinion, but fail to mention any benefits of fines and fees.  Nothing to change policy on, more information is needed, right?

In an attempt to retrieve more information I found the study SPPL offers is only one of at least a few studies on the topic; each with a somewhat different conclusion, making any decision on eliminating fines premature.   

A study at The Journal of Librarianship (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2013.08.011) shows the opposite may be true about eliminating fines: “The results indicate that fines indeed make a difference in patron book return behavior. Patrons who borrowed books under a fines policy returned books before due dates at a statistically significantly higher rate. As a result of this study, it is determined that a fines policy is an effective tool to ensure that books are returned on time and available to the maximum number of library users.”  The maximum number of library users sounds like a lot of people who would be positively impacted by fines and fees. This data being acknowledged, the debate over library fines is far from a conclusion.

Another interesting point related to financial resources is cited on SPPL’s website: “It’s fiscally responsible. Due to the rise in electronic materials (which do not accrue late fines) and other factors, fines are not a sustainable form of revenue for the library. Money collected from fines and fees has gone down steadily for the past 10 years.”, no source was cited with this information.  Yet, a study from Bowling Green State University, Fine Efficacy: An Experimental Study of the Effect of Daily Fines on Borrower Return Habits  (https://libguides.bgsu.edu/fine-research)  indicates that “eliminating fines caused a 33% decline in revenue generated, despite increasing reserve fines and billing fees to compensate for the loss of daily fine payments  They also saw a small increase in number of books that became overdue, even though loan periods had been extended.” This data is compelling considering modern libraries need all of the funding resources they can acquire to provide the valuable resources and services to our communities.

Now, I ask: to what end is SPPL eliminating fines and fees when there is counter-research that suggestsµ doing so could create a negative outcome?  To look good? Good intentions abound but there is lack of evidence that the practice of ending fines or making libraries “fine free” does anything to improve or expand the community readership, patron satisfaction, or even benefit those who no longer accrue fines at any income level.  What happens when patrons can no longer check out a book because it is drastically overdue or assumed lost, and that higher cost to cover a new book is not paid, what costs will the library incur to replace that material resource and have it sent out in a timely manner, if at all? These are some questions undiscussed, seemingly brushed over.  

When taking an assortment of library fines and fees studies into account, perhaps, it is safe to say that there is more research needed and necessary to responsibly change policy within public libraries, especially if it has the potential to decrease fiscal resources for library functions and increase the number of overdue books, essentially limiting those resources for fellow patrons.  Forgiving fines may remove a great lesson from our society, it may show that punctuality and holding to a plan, and having responsibility, is an outdated practice. But eliminating fines may prove beneficial, and create more access. Either way we must keep learning in order to understand the weight of decisions on such important institutions, both sides have plenty to check out.

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Research: “9/11 – The Anatomy of a Great Deception (Full Documentary)”

“Who Was Vince Foster and Was He Killed? Cover-Up, Hillary Clinton (1997)”

ALS water dumping blamed for California Drought

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Los Angeles Times- Amid California’s drought, many wildfires but no disasters — yet

Los Angeles Times- Western drought causes Earth’s surface to rise as water levels drop

            After the recent ALS water dumping sensation California’s droughts have hit an all-time high, and made-up people of little consequence say ‘there is no end in sight’.  Evidence shows a direct correlation between these two events; ALS water dumping and Californian Droughts.  Currently, millions of super-famous, and generally regular-average-boring, Americans have taken to dumping buckets of water over their heads.  For years California has been promoting the prospect of buying and living where there is no water, and the ALS movement is the last straw in breaking the camels back that brought water to these individuals.  Ever since this ALS sensation took viral, water has been impossible to find, not only in Californian desert lands, but in Californian lands which aren’t described as deserts but actually are.  Unbeknownst to those wasting water in the Midwest, or in other celebrity dense cities, lacking water is possibly worse than having Lou Gehrig’s disease, and much more important. 

          Why is this happening you ask, because humans need water to drink, to survive, to put out fires, and to feed the plants, animals, and babies that they grow.  Without water we will eventually dry up and turn into beef jerky, or dust!  What the ALS doesn’t know is that water is essential to life, in general.  They don’t believe water is important, at all.  The ALS has taken to the streets, and to social media, to promote such atrocities as water dumping…  Sounds familiar you say, well that’s because water dumping is the not-so-distant second cousin of water boarding

          The ALS completely hates water and what it does for humans, plants, and the earth (as a whole).  This is an excerpt from the ALS website: 

“The ALS Association is the only national not-for-profit health organization dedicated solely to the fight against ALS. As the preeminent ALS organization, The Association leads the way in research, patient and community services, public education, and advocacy — giving help and hope to those facing the disease.  The Association’s nationwide network of chapters provides comprehensive patient services and support to the ALS community. The mission of The ALS Association is to lead the fight to cure and treat ALS through global cutting-edge research, and to empower people with Lou Gehrig’s Disease and their families to live fuller lives by providing them with compassionate care and support.” 

          ALS stands for Anti Lake Society, plain and simple.  This means the organization does not like lakes, or lake water i.e. fresh water; lakes are made of water, and space.  Moreover, Catholics and the Government have sanctioned those within their ranks to abstain from the practice- if that doesn’t say something, I don’t know (this is a good thing)…  Apparently the ALS also promotes stem cell research, which is completely illegal if you believe in God, the all mighty, and that blood is made out of wine, and that people can walk on water and magically create fish.  It’s bunny-rabbits motherfucker, not fish.  –Amateur magicians (ha, ha)…  Also, the government doesn’t want politicians promoting stem cell research, because that would just be too difficult to explain to religious voters. 

          All in all, the ALS comes across as innocuous, and as standing for something beneficial, however the idea of wasting water to send a message seems to do more harm than good.  Are we more excited about getting cold and wet and seen on video, or about giving money to benign researchers?  Human beings should back research that leads to cures, medications (useful ones), and understanding, but they should also be mindful of their wastefulness.  California is burning, and the ALS is busy collecting money for this type of promotion; dosing individuals with water, and spreading the word like wildfire- pun intended.  Have we become so vain that we can’t see our own demise in front of us?  Water is a limited resource, whether wasting it for the promotion of an important and positive message, or not.  I got an idea, why don’t we promote using water responsibly, turning off the facet, recycling and picking up trash.   I nominate you. 

Media on Media; the wonders of the No Agenda podcast

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The No Agenda Show

This is the place to get detailed, insightful, and informed information, with comic relief, on where/how you get your information.  Two times a week (Thursday and Sunday) the No Agenda program transpires to discuss relevant topics in relation to Government, Media, and Political views.

I am intrigued each time I listen, Aaron (hit me in the mouth) told me about it.  I would like to say thanks for the useful resource.

This is media designed to give you an unbiased (and mostly objective) viewpoint, as biased as that might sound.  It proves eye-opening, if not enlightening.