asian university student studying in library observing social distancing
Dauphin County libraries among those no longer charging late fees
Airdate: December 06, 2022
Benjamin Franklin is often credited with founding the first free library in the country in Philadelphia where books could be borrowed and returned. But according to the Free Library of Philadelphia, that’s actually not true – members had to pay a subscription fee that covered the expenses to buy books and materials.
Fees, including late fees or fines, have been used for a long time by libraries to ensure books and materials that are borrowed are returned on time so others can borrow them too.
But there’s a growing movement across the country for libraries to not levy fines for late returns.
The Dauphin County Library System and Hershey Public Library are two of the latest to adopt the policy. Joining us on The Spark Tuesday was Karen Cullings, Executive Director of the Dauphin County Library System who said,”we’ve been making many strides to remove barriers to service for the library over the last several years. And during the pandemic, we stopped charging late fees as a measure to assist the community in both during our closure and in the recovery period. And of course, we were tracking what other libraries in the country were doing with this, who would also realize that charging these late fees was creating problems for a number of our users. So at this point in time, we just decided we want to try to make this permanent. And at the same time, we’re launching a grassroots campaign to help us restore the funds that are lost from charging the fines so that the impetus is really around, as I said, removing the barriers.”
What if a borrower decides to keep a book or something else they borrowed,”Then they’re charged for replacing the book. And if they have more than a certain amount of fines on their account, more than $10 on their account, they’re blocked from borrowing other items and using certain other library services until that’s resolved. So that’s one way that we handle that. If somebody is habitually keeping items past the due date, if someone’s waiting for it, for instance, we’ll deal with that on a case by case basis as well, so that it doesn’t affect hold times for the things that people are waiting for.”