Chicago Library Patrons Return More Than 100,000 Items During Amnesty Period

Patrons gave more than [Fixed that link] 100,000 books and other items back to the Chicago Public Library during a three-week period where the library granted amnesty from fees.

Spokesman Leland Elder said in a news release that Chicago libraries received 101,301 items during the Once in a Blue Moon amnesty period, which started on Aug. 20 and ended Tuesday. The amnesty applied to overdue books, CDs, DVDs and all other materials.


A better link for it is - the one above currently leads to an article on Week 1 of a cheerleader round-up.;)

It would be interesting to see the pros and cons of this amnesty period, and hear the library's take on whether they felt it was ultimately beneficial or not. On the one hand, they waived more than $640,00 in fines - that's not an insignificant amount! On the other hand, they probably weren't ever going to get these fines anyway, and now at least they've got the books back. Of course, a lot of the older books have probably already been replaced, or are out of date, which means more staff time spent deciding if they want to put them back in the collection or weed them. It's probably going to save them a lot in overdue and lost billing notices, though. Hmm...

Lots of public libraries/library systems have occasional amnesties (or, sometimes, food-for-charity-for-fines periods). My sense is that it works well...unless the local sociopaths decide it's a way to game the system. So far, it seems that most amnesties work out well.

Our library had one about 18 years ago. We got back very little and most of that was unable to be recirculated due to age and condition. Although we did have a guy return a book his parents had checked out in 1934, we have not repeated it.

We did have success this summer with an Earn and Learn program for kids and teens. It was a way for kids who could not use their cards to read books and earn points for the Summer Reading Program and for each 100 points they earned we waived a portion of their fines. If they earned the max number of points, we waived all their fines. It was a great way to get kids to do more than use the computers.

Another reason we do amnesties is to bring patrons back to our library who may have been avoiding us because of that LONG overdue item. That theory is anecdotal of course, but seems valid at least to a point.

When I worked in a public Library people who did this were still unsure about coming back in because before that point the library staff knew they had loads of items missing/overdue etc and they still didn't like coming in as they thought the staff thought bad of them.
We did. But not because of that, more that they were the annoying customers ;)

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