Beginning January 1, 2021, the Garland County Library will no longer charge patrons overdue fines for late returns. All previously existing overdue fines will be forgiven and removed from patron accounts. Many other libraries across North America have already enacted fine free policies with positive results. Studies have shown that fines have little to no impact on items being returned, and patrons who do not have to fret over late fines are more likely to continue using their library, having hurdles to service removed.

According to Library Director Adam Webb, the goal of this move is to provide more equitable access to all members of the community. “The Garland County Library believes in free and equal access for all. Late fees frequently penalize the most vulnerable families and individuals, keeping them from accessing resources that enhance their quality of life and education. Eliminating late fees means removing barriers so more community members have access to library services,” says Director Webb.

Starting January 1st, patrons will only be charged fees for damaged or lost materials. Materials still have due dates, and late materials will be considered lost 60 days after the due date. Once a patron exceeds $25 in lost or damage fees, they will be temporarily unable to borrow items until those items are returned, or the fees are paid. Eventually, a patron who frequently loses items may have their privileges temporarily revoked or reduced. Library materials will be automatically renewed for patrons two times as a courtesy as long as no others have them on hold. It is not until 60 days after any final, extended due dates that a patron will ever be charged. Adult Services Librarian Greg Wallace says “the library will make every effort to reach out to and work with patrons whose accounts are in arrears.”
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