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No more overdue fines at Baldwin Library

As of July 1, patrons of Baldwin Public Library will no longer be charged fines for overdue materials returned after their due dates, and records of past fines have been wiped clean for all patrons.

Officials at the library announced that the new change is a part of an institutional movement from libraries nationwide, in an effort to increase free public access to library services.

In a show of support, the Birmingham Public Library Board of Trustees voted to eliminate overdue fines at their meeting on June 21. In fiscal year 2018-209, revenue earned from overdue fines was less than one percent of the library's budget.

Library Director Rebekah Craft said this policy adjustment will hopefully draw former users who may have had prohibitive fines on their accounts to come back to the library.

“Once someone owes a late fine, they are less likely to visit the library again, and the fear of owing late fines can cause patrons to not borrow the items they need,” Craft said. “We hope being fine free will encourage prior users to come back to the library, as well as encourage new users to explore our offerings.”

However, no fines does not mean no responsibility for patrons. Items will still have a due date and materials will still need to be returned – ideally by the due date. Materials can be renewed three times if there are no holds on them. If an item is not returned, or is returned damaged, patrons will still be charged for lost or damaged items. Borrowing privileges will also be suspended until long-overdue items are returned.

Libraries that have already eliminated late fines report that not only are more items returned to the library, but registration and circulation both increase.

Kristen Tait, circulation services coordinator, looks forward to sharing this good news with patrons. “When you visit Baldwin, we want to focus on helping you, not question you about late fees. Going fine-free makes a trip to the library a pleasant, positive experience for both you and our staff.”


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