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(Westlake, OH) Starting September 3, as part of National Library Card Sign-Up Month, Westlake Porter Public Library borrowers will no longer have to pay fines. The library is eliminating new fines on overdue material as of that date. Fines accrued before September 3 will remain, but those with fines on their accounts at that time may want to check with library staff about their options. Fines will also remain on SearchOhio and OhioLink material, which the library does not control.
WPPL joins a growing number of Ohio libraries which have recently gone fine free, including the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library (January, 2018), Cleveland Public Library (July 27), Lorain Public Library System (June 1) and several others.
The library’s management and Board of Trustees made the decision to go fine free after studying the issue for some time. “Fines were intended to encourage borrowers to return library material,” said Library Director Andrew Mangels. “Instead they’re a barrier to accessing library materials, and we want to remove that barrier.” Mangels noted that fines don’t always act as an incentive to return materials for those for whom a small late fee is not a problem. They also affect loyal patrons who may not be able to afford to pay their fines or who will feel embarrassed about using the library when they have unpaid fines. “The bottom line is that we want to get library materials into the hands of our customers where they can be enjoyed,” said Mangels. “After all, the materials are theirs.”
Fines are a minor source of revenue for the library, making up just one half of one percent of the annual income. Fines and fees have fallen over the last several years, taking a large dip in 2018, when automatic renewals - which reduced the number of overdue items - were introduced. That decrease has been offset by revenue from the library’s passport service. In addition, with fines eliminated, staff time previously spent on collecting them can be used on projects more useful to the community.
The library’s policies regarding unreturned and damaged materials will remain in place. Library card accounts will still be suspended if materials are not returned within three weeks of the due date for most materials, one week for select materials, fees for lost or damaged materials are unpaid, or total fines accrued before fines are eliminated exceed $10. Borrowers will still be billed for replacement of damaged or lost materials. However, the time period at which the library will send accounts to a retrieval agency will be shortened.
The library can be reached at 440-871-2600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.