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No More Late Fees

Borrow for four months fine-free 

      Looking to “better serve the modern library,” the Calvert Library’s Board of Trustees is testing out dropping an age-old policy.

      March begins a four-month pilot of no late fees for checked-out materials. That means materials checked out at Calvert Library branches incur no fees if kept beyond their due date. Automatic renewal will continue for four circulation cycles if no one is waiting for the item.

     “The American Library Association passed a resolution in January encouraging libraries to move toward eliminating fines,” says board president Carolyn McHugh. “Our board has been in discussion about this for over a year, and we are ready to try it out and see how it goes for our community.” 
      The resolution states that monetary fines create barriers to information access and do not serve the core mission of the modern library.
      “We want all Calvert Countians to have access to library services and to feel comfortable using the library,” McHugh says. “We want Calvert to experience the economic and quality-of-life benefits that accessible lifelong-education provides.”
      The county’s four-library system has about 25,000 active cardholders, involving about 38 percent of county households. Monthly circulation runs between 70,000 and 90,000 items. About 2,000 items are currently overdue by one week, 1,700 items are overdue by 14 days and 1,200 items are more than 45 days overdue.
  Still, overdue fines amount to less than $35,000 a year, which is less than one percent of Calvert Library’s annual budget. To recoup some of that loss, the library is looking into processing passports.
      The trial will be evaluated, perhaps tweaked, in June.
      “We hope customers will bring them back in a timely manner so we can continue with the pilot,” says circulation supervisor Carolyn Lenz, who adds that with more works checked out “we will have shelf space for gems that have been hidden.”