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We Have Eliminated Overdue Fines!

by Sarah Sanfilippo on 2021-07-20T16:49:00-04:00 | Comments

It’s time to clear the slate and start fresh! With approval from Mayor Tom Bernard and the Library Trustees, the North Adams Public Library has eliminated overdue fines on almost all library items, starting immediately. 

Children and young adult patrons have been fine free at NAPL since 2018. For the past year and a half, all adult fines have been forgiven under a pandemic-related amnesty policy. The Library has now decided it is time to make the policy permanent for all patrons, and join a growing number of libraries across the Commonwealth and the nation in realizing that fines are not an effective way to steward library resources. 

Currently 90 libraries in the CW MARS consortium do not charge overdue fines. Fines negatively affect the core of a public library’s mission: free and equitable access to resources. The move to eliminate fines is an acknowledgment that patrons who deal with issues related to childcare, transportation, housing, or other challenges should not be penalized just because it might be hard getting to the library, or finishing a book or movie in the time allotted. When auto-renewal went into effect system-wide in 2019, the amount of fines collected dropped by half, showing that many people incurring fines just need a little more time with library materials. 

Patrons will still be billed a replacement cost for lost or damaged items, but the Library has also eliminated the ten-dollar processing fee previously added to these bills. Items are considered lost if they have been overdue for four weeks or more.

Fines will still apply to museum passes, as these are in high demand, and prompt return is essential. 

Items checked out before the change was made on July 15, 2021 will still accrue fines, but will be forgiven upon return. In addition, staff is working through the list of old overdue charges and will be manually clearing them over the coming month. Old lost charges will remain.

This policy applies to North Adams Public Library materials. While many other libraries in the Commonwealth are also fine free, there may still be items from around the state that do accrue fines. 

Library staff are happy to welcome the public back after the long pandemic closure, and believe this is one of the best ways to say “Thank you” to a community that supported the library in so many ways over the past year and a half. 

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