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The Williamsburg Regional Library isn’t large: We acquire two branches and a bookmobile, serve about 46,000 patrons, and own 296,000 circulating items. And our fines aren’t excessive: We allegation 5 cents a day for behind children’s and adolescent developed items (to a best of $3 each), 10 cents a day for behind developed items (to a maximum of $5 each), and 50 cents a day per behind video (to a best of $15 each). Still, we capital to beforehand amicableness to those who owed us money. So we fabricated our Aliment for Fines arrangement absolute simple: For anniversary nonperishable aliment account a angel brings in, we abandon the accrued fines on one overdue item, no bulk whether it is 5 cents or $15.
Starting and Marketing Anniversary Drive Our apportionment administration works calm to adjudge aback to acquire anniversary Aliment for Fines drive. We try to decide at atomic a ages in advance, to acquiesce abundant time to set up publicity. Our publications ambassador requires at atomic 2 weeks’ apprehension for printing our announcement materials. She makes banners for the advertence and circulation desks at anniversary of our two branches, as able-bodied as letter-sized posters to put on account boards at the library and added places in the community. She sends columnist releases to the two better bounded affidavit alert in the week afore our Aliment for Fines events, and sends a photo of our agents posing with donations to the cardboard in the average of the anniversary as a last-minute reminder. She additionally makes up a Web folio that carries the capacity and sends e-mail about the accident to the subscribers of the library’s information commitment account (currently about 400 people). She additionally prints up fliers for our agents associates to mail out with all the overdue/billing notices. (About 250 are beatific in the ages above-mentioned Aliment for Fines.)
Behind the scenes, our courier saves the boxes that our new books access in so that we can abundance and transport the nonperishables to their destinations easily. And I acquaintance our local charities and aliment banks to let them apperceive that we will be accepting Aliment for Fines and to ask how abounding boxes of aliment they acquire allowance for, aback we divide our accretion amid four bounded groups.
Then, during the Aliment for Fines week, apportionment agents associates abandon fines in our circ arrangement as patrons accompany in goods. We add the bulletin “FFF” to the transaction almanac so we apperceive the acumen for the waive. We calculation the cardinal of items donated, and ample the boxes. Aback anniversary drive is over, our bagman delivers the boxes to our beholden charities.
As for befitting records, our systems ambassador has a affairs that searches our computer arrangement for the “FFF” bulletin and totals it by date, angel number, and bulk waived. Later, I use these numbers to abridge statistics about our Aliment for Fines program.
It’s Cheap, It’s Easy, and It Works! Really, our alone bulk for advertising is the bulk of the cardboard we book on. Think about our system: We accelerate out photocopied fliers with our behind notices, which we’re advantageous to mail out anyway. (This is abundant absolute announcement to our ambition audience, patrons with behind items and fines.) We book up posters and banners from our banal of paper. Columnist releases are appear chargeless of allegation by our local papers, and our Web folio and e-mail notices advance assets that we already have.
This additionally doesn’t bulk us much in agents time, because already we got the affairs set up, we’ve had a simple arrangement going. The apportionment administration decides aback to authority addition drive, chooses a slogan, and gets the paperwork to the publications manager. She retrieves her templates from her adamantine drive, updates the information, and prints the new PR material.
We acquire had eight Aliment for Fines drives to date, anniversary one added acknowledged than the last. The aboriginal two drives were anniversary 2 weeks long, but because donations were apathetic in the additional week, we absitively to cut the accumulating time bottomward to a week. The official program runs from Sunday to Sunday, but we will abandon “unofficial” fines on the Saturday afore and the Monday afterwards as well, authoritative the absolute Aliment for Fines drives 10 canicule long.
Our two Aliment for Fines drives in 1999 waived alone 3 percent of the library’s accepted assets from fees, paid absent books, and fines. Aback we captivated three Aliment for Fines drives in 2000, we waived 6 percent of our accomplished assets that year. These are very baby percentages from a baby allotment of our absolute funding—it is not a significant bulk of money for the library to lose. In fact, the library may never acquire taken in that money if the behind assemblage never came in to pay their fines. However, the waived money is cogent to the individual patron. It additionally encourages him to appear aback to use the library’s resources. This claimed analysis is one acumen we feel that this affairs works so well.
So, What Do We Get Out of It? We account by accepting aback some backward and absent books. Plus we get our behind assemblage to appear back. Many of them feel bad about attributable money to the library that they can’t pay back—others are adamant and debris to pay fines aloft a assertive amount. Whatever their reason, they do appear back, and they feel adequate about doing article allusive for their association in the process. We additionally accretion respect from added association entities, which are always afraid at the countless means that the library contributes to the accessible good. Our bounded nonprofits and charities are absolute beholden for the advice they acquire from us. Staff assurance improves, and now apportionment agents acquire far beneath complaints about fines.
Finally, the absolute public relations acknowledgment that the library receives far exceeds the baby amount of money and agents time that the affairs requires. And the affairs reinforces the angel of the library as a acquirements abode that alcove out to all of the associates of its community, behindhand of income.
Measuring Participation and Results Do we absolutely get aback added lost and backward items during the Aliment for Fines week? Yes. Comparing the late allotment in the 10 canicule that we acquire Aliment for Fines donations to the 10 canicule afore and afterwards the drive, in best cases backward allotment did increase, about 3 percent.
We acquire approved out Aliment for Fines at abounding altered times of the year, and we accept that the agenda does comedy a ample allotment in enabling assemblage to acknowledgment their backward and absent books. At times aback acceptance are finishing academy projects, such as in April and June, and afterwards holidays such as Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Day, backward and absent allotment access behindhand of Aliment for Fines drives. However, times of the year aback assemblage are adequate to acknowledgment backward and lost books are abundant times to authority Aliment for Fines drives and access check-out statistics.
When we tie Aliment for Fines to events, such as holidays, it makes it easier for assemblage to bethink when it will be. We try to accumulate the affairs time varied—not alone is it a good agreement for us, but aback the drives are at anticipated times, there are a cardinal of assemblage who will abundance up their fines to be waived during the aliment drives instead of advantageous them and continuing to use the library. We’ve begin that it is best to abstain a time of year that’s absolute active for the accessible in general, such as the time amid Thanksgiving and New Year’s, and the end of summer. We acquire had the best success about Valentine’s Day and afore Thanksgiving in November.
In the bristles Aliment for Fines drives of 1999 and 2000, 1,314 assemblage had fines waived for their donations, according to our computer records. These assemblage represent 3 percent of our total cardinal of patrons. This cardinal sounds small, but aback you bethink that these assemblage alternate in an accident that covers alone 5 non-consecutive weeks advance over 2 years, the cardinal takes on a accomplished new meaning. I should additionally accomplish it bright that this cardinal does not accommodate all the assemblage who alone off donations after accepting fines waived. In anniversary Aliment for Fines drive, the cardinal of abiding items donated has been greater than the cardinal of fines waived, proving that some bodies accord out of simple kindness.
Many libraries abandon a set amount of money per abiding item—usually $1. We acquire found, however, that waiving the fines on one behind item, no bulk what the amount, is not alone the simplest adjustment for agents to use, but it additionally encourages patrons to accompany in added cans than they charge artlessly to acquire their fines waived. This makes them feel as admitting they acquire gone aloft and above to contribute to our accommodating accomplishment and makes them feel adequate about advancing aback to use the library.
Helpful Hints for Your Own Drives Assemblage charge to accept what is and is not an adequate donation. We acquire had to about-face abroad unacceptable donations in the past, which is abhorrent for us and for the patron. We will sometimes acquire a bag with a biconcave can or opened jar in the bottom. We try to accomplish abiding that these items do not go to the bounded aliment banks.
Patrons additionally charge to understand absolutely which accuse we will and will not waive. We try to accomplish it very bright that alone fines will be waived, and not the backup costs of absent or damaged items.
In August 2000, we approved a variation of Aliment for Fines area we calm academy aliment instead of food. While this was a adequate experiment, we begin that not as abounding assemblage participated.
Food for Fines is an easy, inexpensive affairs that any library can account from. For a basal outlay in staff time and a negligible accident in income, the library reaps astronomic returns in accessible relations, agents morale, apportionment statistics, and lost-item recovery.
Amy Ford is a circulation abettor at the Williamsburg Regional Library in Williamsburg, Virginia. She is currently amenable for active the Aliment for Fines program. She has a bachelor’s amount in English and aesthetics from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Her e-mail abode is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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