As reported in RAILS E-News, a new System Membership Standards Committee is being formed to examine current system membership requirements and to make recommendations for changing and strengthening the requirements. The overall goal is to help libraries and library staff provide the best service possible to their communities and for RAILS to help libraries meet new requirements by offering training and other support.
Kathy Parker, RAILS Board member, will chair the committee. We are currently looking for staff from RAILS member libraries of all types (academic, public, school, and special) and sizes, as well as public library trustees, to join the committee. Since current membership requirements are statewide, we will also invite a representative of the Illinois Heartland Library System and the Illinois State Library to join the committee. This will be a working committee that will likely meet for several months. The committee will gather input from the RAILS membership at large and research membership requirements at library systems or similar organizations in other states, among other tasks.
If you are interested in being appointed to the committee, or if you would like more information, please contact Emily Fister by Friday, October 3, at emily [dot] fister [at] railslibraries [dot] info, or 630.734.5145.
I think it is absolutely great what Lynn Elam and the board and staff at the Algonquin Area Public Library District have done in eliminating fines at their library. At a RAILS networking event last week, Lynn was talking about how the program is going and how they implemented it. She explained that their fine revenue accounted for 1% of their budget at about $60,000, so the idea was easier to sell than it might be if your library’s fine revenue is a lot higher.
The community is happy that they don’t have to pay fines and the library staff is happy that they don’t have to collect, count, store and deposit bags of dimes and quarters, etc. When circulation is dropping at many libraries in Illinois and elsewhere, this is a positive and easy way to push circulation higher.
Julie Rothenfluh of Naperville PL was describing a similar program they offer – unlimited renewals (if items are not on hold, obviously). Eliminating fines would be more difficult in Naperville because the amount collected is a lot higher, but they still found a creative way to make their customers happier and their materials more available.
We eliminated fines at a library I worked at in Massachusetts and the only downside was that we really did have to enforce the “you can’t take out any more items until you bring your overdue items back” policy, which can be hard to do. But, it’s usually a lot easier to explain why you really need that item back as opposed to why you have to have that dime or quarter.
To me, these are the kind of common sense changes that often elude us because we are so used to having certain rules in place that we never question what good they actually do.
Kudos to Algonquin and Naperville!
I bet there are lots of interesting ideas percolating and experiments going on out there. We‘d love to hear them if you want to share!