Thursday, December 16, 2010
New Jersey Library Needs More Fine Revenue
Link to December 16 Independent Press article, "Library late fees create budget issue in Millburn".
Excerpt: Some libraries across the state have an end of year grace period for overdue books and some are running special programs where fines will be erased if the borrower donates food to the local food pantry. Not so in Millburn where declining late fees are creating havoc with the library’s budget. [Emphasis added.]
Millburn Free Public Library officials are not saying that they want patrons to return materials late, but they won’t be too upset if they do.
“People are returning things on time so our projection for fines and fees is way down and I need to close out the year bringing in as much money as possible,” said Library Director Bill Swinson.
Swinson budgeted $35,000 for overdue materials this year and with just about two weeks left in the year the library has taken in less than $30,000. And Swinson added that he’s always conservative in his budget estimates for late fees. The highest amount the library ever took in was $38,000, he said.
The library charges 25 cents per item per day for late fees to a maximum of $10 per item. DVD’s are billed at $1 a day. “It really does add up,” Swinson said.
OK, I understand that things have changed, sometimes dramatically, in library funding during the past two years. However, the 2008 version of the New Jersey public library statistics (latest available online) shows the Millburn Free Public Library with $3,223,507 in operating revenue. I'm trying to figure out how a $5,000 shortfall in fines revenue qualifies as 'havoc'?