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Idea Exchange is Fine Free...Forever

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  • Two white piggy banks wearing party hats stand against a blue background beneath the words Fine Free Forever

Service Update | July 5, 2021

Idea Exchange is Fine Free…Forever

As of July 5, 2021, Idea Exchange has permanently eliminated all overdue fines on late materials and removed all existing overdue fines.

The global pandemic has highlighted the increased need in our community for barrier-free library service. Therefore, we are joining over one hundred other libraries across North America who have gone fine free. We never want someone to stop using the services at Idea Exchange because they can’t afford overdue fines.

Over the past few years, Idea Exchange has been improving access to reading materials and supporting early learning and youth literacy with the elimination of overdue fines. Since 2011 there have been no fines on Baby Cards for children birth to 3 years old; in April 2020, fines were permanently eliminated on children’s print materials; and during the pandemic we made our entire collection fine free for everyone.

By going Fine Free Forever, we are continuing to improve access to materials and services to better engage with our community and to serve those who need us most.

How will Fine Free work?

Members will no longer be charged a daily overdue fine when materials are returned late, but are still responsible for returning materials on time so others may enjoy them.

Are there still Due Dates for materials?

Yes, members are still responsible for the items borrowed. Courtesy reminders will continue to be sent to members when items are due.

  • Due dates for borrowed items are listed on checkout receipts and when you Sign In to your online library account.
  • You are responsible for returning or renewing borrowed items on time.
  • Borrowed items can be returned to any Idea Exchange location. Our book drops are always open.
  • Members can choose to receive a courtesy email with alerts sent three (3) days before borrowed items are due. You can also choose to get overdue notices by email or phone.

What about lost or damaged items?

Idea Exchange will continue to charge replacement and processing fees for items that have not been returned after 27 days past their due date. Replacement and processing fees are also applied to items that are returned damaged.

Members will not be able to continue borrowing items if they have been charged for replacement or damaged items. However, if the items are brought back to Idea Exchange, the charges are removed from the suspended account and you are free to borrow again.

If you have questions about overdue items on your account, call 519-621-0460 or chat with us online during open hours.

Support Idea Exchange

If you love Idea Exchange and want to pay it forward, we’d love your continued support! Your donation will help provide outstanding programs, such as our Summer Reading Club or new books for adults, youth, and children. Donations can be made through our Canada Helps page. Charitable tax receipts will be issued for donations over $25.00.

Other Questions

Does the removal of overdue fines mean any fees currently on accounts are removed?

Yes! All existing overdue fines are forgiven. However, if you have outstanding replacement fees for items you have not returned, these will need to be paid.

I have a long overdue item, can it still be returned?

Yes, if there are items that you’ve kept too long, please bring them back. When the item is returned, the replacement fees associated with it will be removed from the account.
If the item is lost entirely, contact us and we can discuss your account directly.

Will I have to wait longer for holds because people will not return items on time if there are no overdue fines?

Staff carefully monitor library holds lists and will purchase additional materials based on a ratio of copies to holds. If some items are kept longer than the three (3) weeks, more purchases will be made to meet demand. Idea Exchange strongly encourages all members to return materials on time to ensure everyone has fair access to them.

If there are no fines, aren’t you worried people won’t bring their items back and there will be no materials on the shelves?

Over one hundred libraries have moved to a fine free model across North America. The evidence shows that when these libraries went fine free, people were more inclined to return their materials and start using the library again, as they no longer had worries about paying a fine.
Over the past year, since going fine free during the pandemic, Idea Exchange has seen almost every item returned that was checked out before the closure in March 2020, and there have been fewer billed items than in past years.

Doesn’t Idea Exchange need revenues from fines to purchase new materials?

Over the past several years, we have been reducing our reliance on fines with the goal of eliminating fines entirely. The fines we collect have steadily declined as the popularity of online collections have increased (digital materials do not have overdue fines) and with the addition of email due date reminders. This has made it possible for Idea Exchange to eliminate fines on all materials, removing this barrier to the most vulnerable members of our community.