If you've been avoiding your local library due to overdue fines — perhaps since 2009 when you forgot to return The Lovely Bones
, which you only rented because you were on winter break from college and then you never read it anyway — you're in luck.
On January 6, St. Louis County Library (SLCL) and St. Louis Public Library (SLPL) announced that branches in both systems would eliminate overdue fines in 2020. The new "fine-free" policy starts this month and aims to "allow patrons greater access to all of the resources available at the library including books, DVDs, online classes, eMedia and more," according to a recent release.
“Public libraries provide vital resources and life enrichment throughout our communities. Individuals, families, businesses, adults, children — the world comes through our doors and networks," SLPL chief executive officer Waller McGuire said in a release. "Our boards voted to open more doors by eliminating fines. It is a wonderful gift for St. Louis and a great step forward for the region.”
Although fines will no longer be charged for late returns, both library systems will require payment for any lost or damaged materials Essentially, our libraries want to make their materials more accessible to folks across the St. Louis area, but you can't destroy or steal their stuff, guys. That seems fair. Still, cardholders must be somewhat prompt with returning items, as after 42 days, unrented rentals will be flagged as lost. Cardholders will continue to receive email notices about due dates, including auto renewals sent two days before items are due. After 45 days, cardholders will be billed for the materials, but if you just simply return them, the fee will be waived.
“Reading has the unique ability to inform, illuminate and inspire," St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said in the release. "It's important that we make our great libraries as accessible as possible to the community. I am grateful to our two incredible library systems for collaborating together to do just that and go fine-free.”
The policy change was approved in December by the board of trustees for both library systems. Money generated by overdue fines was steadily decreasing year over year, the release states, and by moving to a fine-free model, the board hopes to increase "equity for library users."
“We are always looking for ways to remove barriers and increase access to library materials and services," SLCL director Kristen Sorth said. "Removing overdue fees helps make the library’s resources more accessible and supports literacy efforts for our entire community.”
Follow Liz Miller on Twitter at @lizzaymillah. We are always hungry for tips and feedback. Email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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