Warren County Memorial Library has now joined the growing movement of fine-free libraries and has become the 37th county in the state to eliminate fees. On April 19th, the Warren County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to implement the fine-free policy. This means that there are no more overdue fees for library items checked out from the library. Fees for lost or damaged items, as well as fees for various library services, such as printing and copying fees, will remain in effect.
Library systems that have decided to eliminate late fees have noted an increase in library use, as well as a decrease in overdue items in their collections. Fine-free libraries have noted through testimonials that patrons find it meaningful not to have previous late fees, or the fear of future fees, impede their use and enjoyment of the public library.
In 2019, the American Library Association passed a resolution declaring that “the charging of fees and levies for information services, including those services utilizing the latest information technology, is discriminatory in publicly supported institutions providing library and information services.”
“Going fine free helps remove barriers to library access,” said Warren County Memorial Library director Christy Bondy. “This policy has been successful across the country, and we want to make sure that all Warren County residents know they are welcome at their library.”
Bondy added that there have been a number of studies that show that the benefit of removing fines outweighs the cost when actual revenue recovered is considered in comparison to the cost of staff time, as well as the impact on the goodwill to the community.
“We don’t want a child to have the lasting image of the library as an unfriendly place associated with debt,” Bondy said. “It is especially disheartening to know that these families accrue debt that was caused simply by wanting to enjoy books and the other resources that libraries offer. We can open a lot of doors to learning and enrichment when our residents feel like the library is a welcoming, inclusive environment.”
Fine-free means that overdue materials will not accumulate a fine. Instead, they will be marked as “lost” if not turned in after an extended period of time beyond the due date. If patrons have anything in the “lost” file, they will lose their checking-out privileges until the items have been returned.
“If you’re a day or two late bringing it back, there won’t be an overdue fine,” Bondy explained. “Also, all existing overdue fines have been waived.”
Bondy added that most items are checked out for three weeks and are automatically renewed unless someone has placed a hold on the item. Patrons will receive a notice 14 days after the final due date that they have materials due. At 30 days after due date, the materials will be marked lost and their borrowing privileges will be suspended until the materials are returned or replacement fees paid.5pSubtitles EN
“Anything that can reduce a barrier that makes sense, we are going to do,” Bondy said. “I’m very happy to add us to the list of fine-free libraries in North Carolina.”
The Warren County Memorial Library is located at 119 S. Front St. Warrenton, NC.