The Park County libraries are no longer charging daily fines for overdue materials. In fact, they are eliminating all outstanding late fees as a gift to patrons to help ring in the New Year and to bridge the barriers that may have kept community members from stepping into the libraries.
This is part of a nationwide movement by libraries across the country to provide access to all patrons despite socioeconomic status. A $5 fine is pocket change to some of us, while to others it may be enough to provide meals for a family. Your libraries don’t want patrons to have to choose between food and literacy.
“We are thrilled to go fine-free at the Park County libraries,” said Cody Branch Manager, Nicholle Gerharter. “It is the library’s mission to provide equitable access and reduce barriers to it. We know that having fines can create negative interactions or turn people away from using the library, so this allows us to focus on having a positive relationship with you.”
During this time, people need the resources of a public library more than ever – to apply for jobs, improve workforce skills, have access to literacy materials, and much more. When libraries go fine-free, return rates for materials do not go down. In fact, many fine-free libraries have seen an increase in the return of borrowed materials. In Salt Lake City, libraries saw an 11% increase in checkouts, 11% increase in borrowers and a 4% increase in new cards.
No fines does not mean no responsibilities. Patrons are still expected to return their items within the allotted time frame. Many of the materials will automatically renew two times if they do not have any holds. After that, patrons will receive an email, text, or phone call as a reminder that they have items overdue.
Once an item has hit 30 days past due, it will be marked as assumed lost and the patron’s account will then be charged the full price of the missing item. This cost will be removed once the lost item has been returned.
Items that are returned damaged will be assessed a damage fee as well. Due dates can be easily tracked and renewed from the WYLDCAT app, by logging in online, or from a simple phone call to your library.
Your Park County libraries hope to see more faces come through the doors as the burden of having overdue fines has disappeared for good.