“This is going to be getting more materials into the hands of more Scott County residents, which brings us closer to the library’s mission — connecting all residents with resources, support and opportunity,” Scott County Library Director Jake Grussing said. “I think one of the best ways to do that is to create a penalty-free, welcoming environment for anybody who wants to use the library.”
In announcing the new policy, the library said its board of trustees “is dedicated to creating a library that is more open, equitable and understanding of our community,” and explained that “eliminating fines for overdue materials means more people in our community have greater access to the Library’s vital materials, resources and services.”
A social worker will be available in three Coos County libraries and it will be a free service.
“Equal and equitable access to information is a core value of libraries,” said Director of Libraries Eva Poole. “Removing overdue fines from youth accounts is a first step in removing economic barriers to accessing library materials, especially for children who may need us the most. Inability to pay fines may prevent families from returning materials or visiting the library at all. The goal is to get the materials back into our collection, and to encourage families to continue using the library.”
“What’s important is that people use their libraries. We want to make sure that our community has access to the materials and services we provide,” said a statement from the BCLS. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have not charged any overdue fines so patrons had one less thing to worry about, so we are already positioned to join the many other libraries across the state who are fine free. Fines account for less than one-half of one percent of our revenues.”
“Minneapolis nonprofit Avivo is opening an indoor ‘village’ with ‘tiny houses’ in March, providing a COVID-safe and secure place for 100 adults. The two-year pilot program, called Avivo Village, could become a post-pandemic template for private emergency shelters in place of the usual congregate sleeping spaces.”
To date, Chicago Public Library (CPL) is the largest library system in the country to go fine-free. Starting October 1, CPL will eliminate overdue fines on all CPL-owned items currently in circulation, which it said will remove barriers to basic library access, especially for youth and low-income patrons.