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Goodbye to late fees as of January 1, 2021

No more late fees, aucuns frais de retard on a yellow background in the right side. On the left side a book with a arrow on the top on white circle.

Dec 15, 2020

We are happy to announce that we will be eliminating late fees as part of our new Materials Recovery Model on January 1, 2021. Other existing fees, including replacement fees for lost or damaged items, will still apply.

Our aim is to remove barriers for customers and increase access to the Library. Eliminating late fees should result in more OPL cardholders, better access to Library resources, more circulation, and greater recovery of Library materials. Research shows that late fees are not the best way to encourage timely returns of Library material, and we want to make sure that late fees do not discourage people from accessing Library services. We look forward to welcoming new and returning customers to the Library as a result of this change.

CURRENT FEES (as of January 1, 2021) 

The following existing fees will still apply:

  • $1 restocking fee for holds that are not picked up or cancelled on time
  • Replacement fee for lost or damaged items
  • Replacement fee for a lost library card  
  • Interlibrary loan fees when applicable
  • $15 referral fees for collection agency accounts 
  • SmartLibrary fees for monies accrued at SmartLibrary partner institutions
  • Non-resident fees  
  • Photocopying and printing fees

 

No new fees have been introduced. However, accounts with $25 in fees will be suspended until the fees are paid or until lost items are returned. Accounts with outstanding fees over $50 for more than 90 days will be referred to a collection agency.

 

REPLACEMENT FEES

Items are considered lost:

  • 21 days after the due date (regular collection items)
  • 7 days after the due date (Express items)

Once an item is considered lost, a replacement fee equal to the cost of the item will be charged. If the lost item is returned, the replacement fee will be cancelled.

 

RENEWING ITEMS

Items that previously had no renewal limits will now have a limit of five renewals. Other renewal limits remain unchanged. Please note that an item can only be renewed if there are no holds on the item.

OPL looks forward to a happy new year in 2021 with these changes to make the Library more accessible to everyone.

For more details on the end of late fees, and the focus on materials recovery, you can read our Frequently Asked Questions.

Comments

Late fees for 7 day express

Considering that we can only return books during branch hours inside a branch, it seems a bit harsh that we will be charged a lost fee for an express book after 7 days. If I were to renew the book once, and then not be able to return it (ie I had to self isolate) the following week during branch hours, I would be charged.

Late fees for 7 day express

Hello. If you are charged a replacement fee for an item that is considered lost, that fee will be removed if you return the item. If you are unable to return items due to having to self isolate, please contact InfoService at 613-580-2940 or InfoService@BiblioOttawaLibrary.ca for assistance. Thank you.

late fees for 7 days

Thank you! Happy holidays!

@fancynancy When the item is

@fancynancy When the item is returned the Lost fee will be removed from your account.

replacement fees

Perhaps it should be noted that: > if a replacement fee has been paid and the item is subsequently found and returned, the replacement fee will not be reimbursed<

Motivating timely returns?

If late fees are not the best way to motivate timely returns, then, please, what is the best way, or a better one? What is the purpose of the loan period if there are no consequences for not observing it? Discounting the temporary situation with the quarantine, we should have some idea about when our item on hold will be available if it is the only one, and there should be something to hurry up a timely return. Coupled with too many items simultaneously checked out this is real chaos. Loan period is loan period, and rules should be observed, even if the fees are only nominal (when they happen to me, I am proud to support a great service).

Good points well presented,

Good points well presented, smarjano, and I am in full agreement. It appears the decision is a "fait accompli" so this feedback will fall on deaf ears. I would much prefer unlimited renewals, a policy which has been reversed according to this announcement.

Good points well presented,

Hello. The new limit on renewals helps ensure that items can be browsed and borrowed by all customers. We previously had a limit of 3 renewals on regular items before 2017, and in bringing back a limit, we have increased it to a limit of 5 renewals. We appreciate everyone’s feedback, and we will continue to review our fee structure each year as part of the budget process. Thank you.

Motivating timely returns?

Thank you for your comment. There are several pieces in place to encourage timely returns without late fees. The loan periods are still in effect, and replacement fees will be charged for items that are considered lost. The replacement fees will be cancelled if the lost items are returned, but customers cannot borrow anything from the physical collection once they owe $25, encouraging them to return any lost items quickly. Wait times for holds should not increase, as eliminating late fees encourages the return of long overdue items, increasing the number of copies available for customers to borrow. We will also be sending regular email reminders for any items coming due, as well as lost items, which studies show are an effective way to encourage customers to return items. Late fees create barriers to accessing library services, especially for members of the community who are most at risk of exclusion, and we want to ensure that everyone has access to Library services.

I totally agree. I think

I totally agree. I think these recent changes make no sense whatsoever. How abolishing late fees will make the library more accessible to people is beyond me. There's no fee to use the library, and if you respect the loan periods, then there will never be a late fee. What is so un-accessible about that??? I think to be able to use a library is a privilege, so if you abuse that privilege, then there should be a fee for that. I have late fees through the years, and am happy to pay them as I know it goes back to the library.

There are thousands of people

There are thousands of people who have excessive late fees and long overdue items. They just don't go back to the library or get a family member to borrow for them instead. By eliminating late fees, it encourages people to bring their books back because they know they won't be penalized for finally returning them.

Removal of Late Fees

Removing late fees will make it harder for people to receive their library items since there will be no incentive for people to return items by the end of the loan period. Library staff and resources will be used to continually remind clients to return their items. Will the accounts of clients who have multiple items long past their loan period be suspended? It is hard to believe late fees are a deterrent to people using library services. I would prefer the library keep the late fee policy in place and if people find the late fee to be a financial hardship, I have always found the library staff to be accommodating in finding a solution. I have paid my share of late fees and do so gladly because the library is a great service.

Removal of late fees

The library has essentially piloted this idea over the last several months and has a better idea of whether people do, in practice, return items without late fees. You (YOW) seem to just be speculating that people are inherently untrustworthy and will take advantage of the system with no statistical evidence. Libraries in other cities have done the same thing and haven't collapsed as a result. As for whether accounts of clients who have multiple items long past their loan periods will be suspended, this post clearly outlines the policy on considering items "lost" and replacement fees. Keeping 1-3 (depending on their cost) books 3 weeks past their due date would result in someone's account being suspended.

removal of late fees

michelle_burrows, I did not say people are inherently untrustworthy. I said people would have no incentive to return items in a timely manner. Life is busy and people do procrastinate. I also did not say (or imply) the removal of fees would result in the collapse of the library system. Late fees or no late fees, as another contributor posted, it is a fait accompli.

Removal of Late Fees

Hello. Customers will be charged replacement fees for items that are long overdue (21 days or 7 days, depending on the item), and accounts are suspended when customers have $25 in fees. If customers return these items, the replacement fees will be cancelled, encouraging a quick return of these items. Late fees create barriers to accessing library services, and studies show that other methods, like regular email reminders, are more effective. Our new model aims to ensure that everyone has access to Library services, while still encouraging customers to return their items on time. Thank you.

Limited renewals

So, the library only got rid of the limit on renewals in the last couple of years, and it's been wonderful - it means I can pick some titles that aren't too popular and hold on to them for when we run out of more popular books. And as long as nobody else wants something, what's the harm in it sitting at my house for a few months? Also, while you're making changes, can we expect the limit on the number of holds to finally be removed?

re: Limited renewals

The harm in having items sitting in houses instead of the library shelves is that not everyone has a clear idea of what he or she wants. That is the beauty of shelf browsing in the library - and I am talking, of course, about normal, healthy times. Browsing is one of the greatest pleasures of the love of literature, music, films. You have a choice of items, many of which you might not have dreamed of picking up. You widen your horizon about cultures, epochs... Let alone that not everyone has a computer at home to make a hold as soon as the idea pops up. I definitlely do not like the half empty shelves in the main branch. And unlimited holds are just making it worse by slowing down the circulation.

Limited renewals

The new limit on renewals helps ensure that items can be browsed and borrowed by all customers when visiting the library. We previously had a limit of 3 renewals on regular items before 2017, and in bringing back a limit, we have increased it to a limit of 5 renewals. Our current limit on the number of holds is 100 physical holds per customer. We are not currently able to offer all our regular services, so this allows items to move to customers in a timely manner during this time. We will continue to monitor this. Thank you.

FYI, late fees do not in fact encourage returns

Lots of studies on this. It seems "obvious" to people that it would encourage returns to avoid the late fees, and hence the logic probably since libraries were started. However, when the issue has been studied, they've discovered that many people who end up being a day late, want to: a. make it worthwhile -- i.e. they won't return it until they're REALLY finished with it now since it's already costing them money; b. want to go into the branch to pay it off immediately rather than leave it on the account. In many cases, the main reason for missing the return was lack of time to get around to using it or returning it...it perversely means people keep it until they have time to deal with it, sometimes incurring larger and larger fines as a result. "Oh, I'll go Tuesday, it's only a couple more dollars. Oh dang, I have to go for groceries that day in the other direction, and do piano lessons. Okay I'll go Wednesday. Oh, didn't make it. Well if I hang on to it until the weekend, I might have time to finish reading / using it. Okay I'll wait." Those are almost literal quotes from some of the studies of people's behaviour. Since their first decision to be "late" wasn't a financial decision, a financial penalty doesn't tend to influence the outcome. The second assumption by everyone is that people will immediately abuse the system, but most people don't. They generally feel guilty and might be late a day or two, but not extensively as they aren't invested past the first day of being late. It's just "mounting guilt". What DOES get abused regularly is too many holds, unlimited renewals, and lost materials. If those aren't constrained, wait times for popular books grows exponentially in any public library in North America and Australia/NZ. The numbers aren't quite as stark in Europe for some reason. The nice part too is they can monitor the rates over time and if it starts to be abused, reintroduce fees. But the evidence in NA tends to be the opposite. P.

Re: FYI, late fees do not in fact encourage returns

I am not at all convinced by the populist "psychology". The question in my original post is unanswered: What then is the motivation for timely returns? What is the meaning of the loan period if there are no consequences for disregarding it? Yes, I occasionally behave just as in the "studies": keep a book a few days more until I finish it and then gladly pay the fee. So now I will occasionally behave the same and not contribute to the limited city budget. Now the loan period is something approximate, nebulous. And I will have no clue about when my hold will appear, not even approximately. And, yes, many of the patrons are extremely conscientious. If the pandemic period is indeed a pilot project, then in the normal times it does not work. The shelves are half empty, the availability of items is utterly unpredictable, the wait times very long. All very understandable during the pandemic, but definitlely not how things should work in normal times. We need a real due date, with consequences, not a vague date of "encouragement to return".

I suppose the easiest fix

I suppose the easiest fix would be to charge the Lost Item Fee as soon as a book is 1 day late

les chutes pour les retours de livres fermées.

Ce qui ne favorise pas le retour des livres à temps. Les chutes sont fermés pendant les heures de fermeture Je suis alle trois fois porter mon livre, une fois tot le matin, fermé, une fois pendant mon heure de diner (eh oui je travail de la maison) fermé. J'ai du y retourné le lendemain avant la fermeture. Vos horaires ne sont jamais a la meme heure. franchement c'est assez pour ne plus vouloir y retourner louer des livres.

les chutes pour les retours de livres fermées.

Bonjour. Pour des raisons de santé et de sécurité, pour l'instant les articles peuvent seulement être retournés pendant les heures d'ouverture. Cela permet aux employés de n'avoir de contact direct avec les articles retournés qu'après la période de quarantaine. Les horaires varient chaque jour pour permettre aux succursales d'être ouvertes quelques soirs chaque semaine, mais ils sont les mêmes d'une semaine à l'autre. Vous pouvez consulter les horaires ici: https://biblioottawalibrary.ca/fr/library. Nous apprécions votre patience avec nos nouveaux protocoles durant cette période. Merci.

Unlimited Renewals

One of the great things about unlimited renewals is that by trying to renew all checked out items it is possible to see which items cannot be renewed. This can then be used to determine which order to read the checked out books. As far as I know, there is no other reliable way to determine which items cannot be renewed. For example, looking at the number of copies and the number of holds is not reliable, since some (or many) of those holds may be paused. It is not unusual to receive a book on hold when you are no where near the top of the hold list. If you are going to go back to limiting the number of renewals, how about changing your website so it shows whether or not an item is "renewable"? (Thanks for the great service!)

Thank you for your feedback!

Thank you for your feedback! The new limit on renewals helps ensure that items can be browsed and borrowed by all customers. We previously had a limit of 3 renewals on regular items before 2017, and in bringing back a limit, we have increased it to a limit of 5 renewals. Unfortunately, our system is not currently set up in a way that allows us to show whether an item is "renewable" on the website. You are correct that you can't always tell if a book will be renewable based on the number of holds (as they may be paused), but generally if there is a long wait list for an item, it will not be renewable. You can also pause your holds without losing your place in line if you would like to have fewer books checked out at one time. Thank you.

renewal change logistics

Hi! I definitely welcome the change regarding late fees. And as for the renewal limit that is ok too. While I will miss the unlimited, I understand that having a limit means that materials will potentially circulate more. Just wondering if there was thought given to the volume of materials that will be returned in January 2021. I am sure there are many patrons like myself who were taking advantage of the unlimited renewals that you had put in place in 2017. And that this will mean that all of those materials that are already at 5 renewals or more will now have to be returned in January 2021. Given that all materials returned sit for at least 3 days before being processed, will you have enough space to store this temporary influx of material and enough staff to process the extra returned materials in a timely fashion (no more than a week as stated on this website)? Also given the current lockdown restrictions and winter weather, enough containers at curbside & staff to move boxes inside as this influx of now non renewable material is returned? As this is a written communication, I want to be clear that I am trying to be helpful here and am not complaining. I love the library and am really pleased with the wide variety of services and materials that I have access to. Thank you

renewal change logistics

Hello, Thank you for your feedback. Branches have spaces set aside to store returned items while they are in quarantine, and they have made sure to have enough containers and boxes as part of our pivot to curbside service. We will continue to monitor the volume of returns in the coming weeks. We are glad you love the library! Thank you.

Return Box Outside Working Hours

The return box being unavailable outside Library hours is very annoying. I do not understand your illogical explanation above and dropping a book outside working hours should have no impact on your quArantine policy. I use to drop-off all my returns early in the morning while commuting to work and your new policy is forcing a separate trip to the library. Sincerely,

Return Box Outside Working Hours

Hello. Our current returns protocol limits staff having direct contact with items until after they have been quarantined. Thank you.

Renewal Limits

Given the current lockdown on Ontario, forcing patrons to return all materials that currently have 5 or more renewals immediately is unfair and unwise. The library's renewal system will now only allow items to be renewed that have 4 or less renewals. I predicted this problem once the information about the library's new policies regarding late fees, renewal limits, etc., was posted in mid-December. I called Infoservice and was reassured that, starting in January, patrons would be allowed 5 MORE renewals, and then would have to return their items. Given that renewals are for 3 weeks, 5 renewals would allow patrons to have until mid-April to return their items. Now, patrons will be forced to return their items during a lockdown, when we are only supposed to leave our homes for essential purposes. I therefore ask library staff to allow all patrons to have 5 additional renewals starting today (January 1, 2021) to finish using their borrowed items. Even though no late fees are applied to a patron's account for 21 days after an item becomes late, after 21 days the patron is charged for the item and only one or two items would cause the patron's account to be suspended (which occurs when the patron owes $25.00 or more), and they are then locked out of the library's system. Instead of facilitating access to the library, this policy will have quite the opposite effect. Especially considering it is being enacted during a province wide lockdown, it is unconscionable.

Renewal Limits

Hello. Our new renewal limit is to ensure that items can be borrowed by other customers. During the provincial shutdown, we are providing curbside service, where customers can return their items outside branches without entering the building. Physical distancing and mask-wearing remain in place. If you cannot renew your items and are not able to travel to a branch at this time, please contact InfoService at 613-580-2940 for assistance. Thank you.

Multiple checkouts and items removed from catalogue

There has to be a fine line between the convenience of fewer visits to the library and availability of items for immediate checkout and browsing (in normal times). The new limit on renewals is an excellent move, no matter that some patrons think that there is no harm in keeping unused items at home. The limit of 100 on checkouts is too high, way above what can be expected not to lie unused on patrons' shelves. The library should reconsider the fine line for that number. I find myself checking out multiple items (but below 20) for another reason. Some older titles are disappearing from the catalogue at an alarming rate. It is very frustrating to have a book on the for-later list, and when you want to read it find that it had been removed. So checking out the older titles for future reading seems to be the logistics. Since this goes against the principle of not hoarding, is there a better way to know which items are to be removed from catalogue? Or should we put older items on hold and pause them? Some of us prefer earlier works of known writers to the ones with a buzz.

Limites sur les renouvellements

Je suis d'accord à avoir une limite sur le nombre de renouvellements lorsqu'il y a des gens en ligne pour emprunter un livre. Par contre, si le livre n'a pas été demandé par quelqu'un d'autre, je trouve que limiter le nombre de renouvellements est une mesure inutile. Il faut maintenant retourner le livre, attendre la fin de la quarantaine, puis réserver le livre en ligne à nouveau, attendre qu'il soit prêt et retourner le chercher à la bibliothèque. Causant déplacements inutiles pour le client et travail inutile pour le personnel de la bibliothèque. Pourquoi perdre de l'efficacité et ajouter du stress aux utilisateurs des livres qui n'ont pas toujours le temps de lire aussi vite qu'ils voudraient?

Renewal Limits and Stay at Home Order

I am confused how suddenly changing the renewal limits during a pandemic makes sense, especially in light of the January 12 th state at home order. Why create a situation where people will be forced to make a trip outside their homes for a non -essential activity ???? I am genuinely confused about the logic behind such a change . Any clarification would be appreciated,

Renewal Limits and Stay at Home Order

Hello. Our new renewal limit is to ensure that items can be borrowed by other customers. We are currently providing curbside service, where customers can return their items outside branches without entering the building. Physical distancing and mask-wearing remain in place. If you cannot renew your items and are not able to travel to a branch at this time, please contact InfoService at 613-580-2940 for assistance. Thank you.

Renewal Limits and Stay at Home Order

I am confused how suddenly changing the renewal limits during a pandemic makes sense, especially in light of the January 12 th state at home order. Why create a situation where people will be forced to make a trip outside their homes for a non -essential activity ???? I am genuinely confused about the logic behind such a change . Any clarification would be appreciated,

Renewal Limits and Stay at Home Order

I am confused how suddenly changing the renewal limits during a pandemic makes sense, especially in light of the January 12 th state at home order. Why create a situation where people will be forced to make a trip outside their homes for a non -essential activity ???? I am genuinely confused about the logic behind such a change . Any clarification would be appreciated,

Renewal Limits and Stay at Home Order

I am confused how suddenly changing the renewal limits during a pandemic makes sense, especially in light of the January 12 th state at home order. Why create a situation where people will be forced to make a trip outside their homes for a non -essential activity ???? I am genuinely confused about the logic behind such a change . Any clarification would be appreciated,

late fees by another name

Of course it is not true to say that late fees have been abolished. They have just been delayed for three weeks, at which point the much higher "replacement fee" will be charged!! Naturally I don't like the renewal limit. In my particular case, I am in the habit of borrowing quite heavy books that are in a series that is republished every year. That is to say there is pretty well no demand for volumes from earlier years, so they can stay on my shelves for occasional consultation just as happily as on the library shelves. In the past there was pretty well a constant flow of volumes off my shelves, on to the library ones, back and forth, every nine weeks, with consequent expenditure of time and energy, both on my part and that of the library staff. The policy of unlimited renewals fixed that problem. Incidentally, while I am writing, I might as well point out that the quarantining of books makes no sense. It has pretty well been established over the past nine months that the coronavirus is not spread by contact with surfaces. Even if one coughs virus particles on to some surface or other, the virus does not remain contagious enough to be picked up on someone else's hands, causing them to become sick. For example: https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20200903/coronavirus-on-surfaces-whats-the-real-risk. Quarantining the books just slows the circulation process, and given that one consequence of this policy is that books can now only be returned when the library is open, it makes it harder for people to return the books in a timely manner.

late fees by another name

Thank you for your feedback. No new fees have been introduced at this time. Replacement fees for lost and damaged items were already in effect in our previous model, and we have kept these fees to encourage customers to return their items in a timely manner. If a lost item is returned, the replacement fee will be cancelled. Not all customers place holds regularly, so many great items are discovered by customers only when they are browsing the collection. Our new renewal limit is to ensure that items can be enjoyed by other customers. We previously had a limit of 3 renewals before 2017, and in bringing back this limit, we have increased it to 5 renewals. We are currently following provincial directives for quarantining returned items. Thank you.

Support the OPL - make items available to others

Led to the logical conclusion from some of the posts, we would not need a beautiful new building for the main branch. We could distribute the items on patrons' shelves ("no harm in that") and have a simple vault for the rest. Covid-19 will not last forever and no one has the right to deny us the pleasure and convenience of browsing of the library shelves, and not half empty ones either. There is some inconvenience for some patrons in occasional visits to the branches, but there is also the inconvenience for other patrons in waiting for the item to be returned instead of checking it out right away. This is true for online browsing, and even more for in-branch visits. So please fellow patrons, plan your reading and viewing, five times three weeks is plenty enough, and just drop the unused items into the slots without any social proximity. P.S. Please delete duplicate posts, or start a new thread for this important topic.

Support the OPL - make items available to others

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Absolutely, many of our customers enjoy browsing the shelves, and there are so many great books that are discovered that way. We look forward to offering this service again when we are able.

Unlimited Renewals

I doubt whether most library users will complain about having a limit on the number of renewals. And having five renewals is, of course, better than three renewals that was the case in the past. What is annoying is that the change from unlimited renewals means that items already renewed more than five times can no longer be renewed. This is an unreasonable change and penalizes people who have been in good faith making use of the unlimited renewals. For example, as I mentioned in a previous comment, I used unlimited renewals as a convenient way to find out which items could not be renewed. Having to guess based on the number of holds is not a reliable way to see if something can be renewed. I'm sure it was easier to implement the change to five renewals without making it so that items that already have five renewals could be renewed five more times, but it is seems clear that library staff did not think this through and did not think much about how it would affect library users. Please take this a constructive criticism and keep up the great work!

Unlimited Renewals

We understand that it will take a bit of time to adjust to these changes, and we appreciate your feedback. If you cannot renew your items and are not able to travel to a branch at this time, please contact InfoService at 613-580-2940 for assistance.

PICK UP

My branch ( Greenboro) have provided to me excellent service. I try to go to branch every 14 days for returns and pick-ups. Thanks to the Greenboro Staff and Happy 2021.

PICK UP

Thank you for your kind words, and Happy 2021 to you!

Chute pour les livres

J'aimerais bien comprendre pourquoi on ne peut retourner nos livres dans la chute destinée à cette fin.? Vous évoquez pour raisons sanitaires pour vos employés. Que l'on retourne les livres dans les bacs extérieurs ou dans les chutes pour les livres, pouvez-vous expliquer à vos abonnés, en quoi ce serait plus dangereux que les livres empruntés viennent de cette chute?

Renewals and requests - conflict

I was waiting to renew a book I have borrowed. It wasn't due for another week. When I went to renew it I couldn't. My bad luck, someone wanted to read this book suddenly (published about 30 years ago). There was at least one other copy available, evidently, for that request. But somehow I was still blocked from renewing my copy. It's really awkward. I have to now request this book... but return the copy I have first. Kind of a pity in this time of limited acess to library materials, attempts to control transmission of COVID-19, etc. Ideally I should have been able to just keep the copy I already have. I'm confused why this would have happened.

Renewals and requests - conflict

I was waiting to renew a book I have borrowed. It wasn't due for another week. When I went to renew it I couldn't. My bad luck, someone wanted to read this book suddenly (published about 30 years ago). There was at least one other copy available, evidently, for that request. But somehow I was still blocked from renewing my copy. It's really awkward. I have to now request this book... but return the copy I have first. Kind of a pity in this time of limited acess to library materials, attempts to control transmission of COVID-19, etc. Ideally I should have been able to just keep the copy I already have. I'm confused why this would have happened.