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Local Library Policies

Over the past couple years our local library system has been under financial pressure, resulting in some changes, and maybe not all of them bad, but still frustrating. Hoping those of you reading today might offer some insight into your local library policies so I can decide whether to dig deeper or just live with it!

  • All branches closed on Friday
  • Cannot checkout any books if any unpaid fine
  • Cannot renew a checked out book more than 4 times
  • Fines only paid in cash/check

The Friday closing I get, definitely savings to close the office, though I wish they would leave one branch open. More than once I’ve wanted to go on a Friday and couldn’t. They’ve told me that the reason behind requiring all fines to be paid is to increase circulation, but I find fault with that argument. You can return all your books, owe $.10, and not be able to check out any books. I rarely carry cash and there is no ATM machine in the building. I would have no problem paying the merchant fee on top of the fines. This is supposed to happen eventually, but it’s not been funded yet that I can see.

The limit of 4 renewals – don’t know. They only let you renew if no one has a hold on it, but I can see that there should be a max, whether 4 or 14. This one annoyed me recently when I returned books and forgot one that I’d had for a while (about growing tomatoes) and actually remembered to bring cash with me, but I couldn’t renew the book, couldn’t pay the fine on it because it wouldn’t calculate until returned – leaving me the option of paying for the book plus a $10 fee (which I considered), or having them hold all the books I’d selected on a Thursday evening that I wanted for a rare Friday at at the beach.

So, I’m trying not to rant, yet I’m not sure those policies are all that customer friendly.


I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.


Posted by Steve Jones on 23 July 2010

Interesting. The local libraries here have undergone automation, with completely automated checkout and find paying at PC kiosks. Don't know about the checkout limits. I have tended to read on the iPhone, so I've rarely checked anything out anymore.

Posted by Kevin Devine on 30 July 2010

I worked at a library for almost 4 years and these policies are not designed to enhance customer experience, they are designed to get you to pass the tax levy...

Schools, libraries and other government organizations are funded by taxes.  The more inconvenient they make the service (with easy remedies), the more likely people are to pass the next levy.  This can, of course, backfire.  But, more often, if they promise to open on Friday if you pass the next 5mil levy, you might be inclined to do so...

Posted by Andy Warren on 2 August 2010

Have it on my list to gather policies from other Fla libraries, see if I can make an argument for change based on that I think.

Posted by smorgan on 22 August 2011

I just came across this while searching for SQL Policy.  I don't know if you're still interested but I'll reply anyway.

From what I know about the Jax library:

- Most branches are open on Friday.  Some branches close at 6pm on some weekdays but are open to 9pm twice per week.  On Sunday only the main (Downtown) branch is open.  Recently I read that 3 or so branches will likely close for good.  A couple of years ago no branch was open past 8pm.

- I think they began the policy of no checkout with unpaid fine.

- Renewals here have always been limited to 3 times and no renewal if a hold existed.

- I don't know about how fine payment is allowed.  You might just keep some loose change in your car and a few ones in your glove box, just for the library.

My wife uses the heck out of the library.  The limit of items that can be checked out on one card is 50.  She places her reserves online and looks to see what awaits her before she picks them up on Thursdays.  If you did that, you could also see if you have any outstanding fines before you go.

Happy reading.

Posted by Andy Warren on 24 August 2011

Still interested:-) I don't know if there is a max checkout here or not, will have to ask. Always interesting to see what kind of service/options are offered.

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