DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — The Dauphin County Library System has announced that they are going “fine free.” The library will be extending a no late-fee policy enacted at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and will be working to end late-fees, which they believe are a barrier to access.
The Dauphin County Library will be joining other state libraries, such as the Free Library of Philadelphia, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Mt. Lebanon Public Library, Reading Public Library, and Berks County Public Libraries.
“Our number one mission is to serve our community by connecting people with the knowledge and resources they need,” said Karen Cullings, the Library System’s executive director. “Unfortunately, libraries have found that late fees and fines end up being roadblocks to those who need our services the most.”
Cullings mentioned how when the Memphis Public Library went fine-free three years. They did this after viewing research that showed families making less than $25,00 were holding 33% of the unpaid fines.
Eliminating the fines helped increase library card adoption and usage, according to the American Library Association.
In order to help libraries stay fine-free, Cullings said The Library is hoping that the community will donate to help support the new policy. You can make donations online or by visiting one of the eight library locations. Supporters can help “Pay it Forward,” to help the library remain fine-free.
“We hope that many in the community will help us ease the burden on those who may have overdue books but fear returning to The Library because they can’t pay the fines,” Cullings said. “Members who return an item late and no longer have to pay a fine can ‘pay it forward by donating to help us continue the policy.’’
The Library will still be encouraging responsible borrowing and if a member has more than what would have amounted to $10 in fines, they can no longer do the following:
- Check out materials or borrow laptops
- Access Hoopla (which gives access to eBook, eAudio book, and eMusic titles)
- Reserve Library meeting rooms
If an item isn’t returned within 48 days from the due date, members will be billed and assessed a replacement fee. The account will be forwarded to a collection agency for those who have unpaid balances totaling over $45.
“With our new “fine-free” policy, we want to remove any roadblocks while encouraging members to use our resources responsibly,” Cullings said. “From helping children learn to read to assisting adults looking to find their next job or go back to school, we are committed to serving the community, and we believe going “fine-free” underscores that commitment.’’