If you’ve got a library fine haunting you this October, the Fine Forgiveness program is here to help ease your conscience.
Fine Forgiveness is an October tradition at the Palliser Regional Library and Moose Jaw Public Library, where they offer incremental erasure of racked up fines in exchange for patrons completing some easy tasks, all of which involve exploring what the library has to offer.
For each task — such as bringing a non-perishable donation for the food bank, learning how the e-book database works, looking at Hoopla for digital content streaming, checking out a new item, and many more — patrons can knock off $10 worth of fines from their account, up to a total of $100.
“We know that people have stuff going on in life, and you forget or get busy and can't bring back all of your items,” said Shevaun Ruby, assistant librarian at MJPL. “This is an opportunity for those who accidentally got those fines racked up to come back to the library and be able to work those down, so they can use the library again.”
There is also amnesty for those who return lost items, which means that patrons won’t be charged the usual processing fee.
The purpose, agreed Ruby and Jan Smith, director of Palliser Regional Library, is to encourage library patrons to interact with the library and take advantage of the services offered.
“Each librarian puts their own little spin on things, but it’s still the same concept of making the people understand what services are available to them and hoping to get them back reading again,” said Smith.
For some, having fines on a library account can be a deterrent to returning, and so the program is also meant to resolve that anxiety in a productive way.
“Some people are avid readers but they're a bit embarrassed about a library fine and so they won't come back until that fine is forgiven,” said Smith. “We're not here to try and get their money, we're here to try and get them to use our services, and come back for our services.”
“The phrase we have on our little handout is, 'we miss you, come back and see us,’” said Ruby.
Last year, MJPL waived about $1,500 of fines during their Fine Forgiveness week.
For those who frequent any Palliser Regional Library branch in the province, you have all month to work off those fines attached to your account.
For those who borrow from the Moose Jaw Public Library, you’ll have to spend some time in the stacks from Oct. 20 to 26, which coincides with Saskatchewan Library Week. The Public Library is hosting a Patron Appreciation Day on Oct. 23, with coffee and snacks available that morning for whoever stops in.
“Come visit us, and find out what we've got, because its more than books,” said Smith. “There's a world of opportunity for recreation and learning available at your library.”