CORYDON, Ind. (WDRB) -- The Harrison County Public Library has closed the book on an old way of doing business.
The library has done away with fines for overdue items.
“Often, it just creates a barrier for access for people that can't afford the fines,” said Alisa Burch, who became library director in January.
Burch said she recommended, and the library board approved, doing away with late fees of 10 cents a day for each book and $1 for DVDs.
“Fines are sort of punishment. It's not an encouragement,” she said. “We want to encourage people to come in to the library and use it.”
The new policy does not mean there is no consequence for failing to return materials.
If a book or DVD is more than six months overdue, the cost of the item will be permanently billed to the customer’s account. Burch said it is usually no more than $20 to $30 per item.
“Your account will still be blocked, if your item is overdue, so the incentive to bring back the materials so that you can use the library is still there,” she said.
Burch said library customers will get phone calls reminding them when items are coming due.
The library has wiped out some 86,000 existing fines. Burch said most of the money would probably never have been collected anyway.
“We will lose some revenue in fines, but what we make up in good will with the public is more than enough,” Burch said.
Indeed, several customers who spoke with WDRB News applauded the move.
“I think it could be a good idea, because it will motivate people to come in more, because you wouldn't have to pay money for late fees,” Zach Satterfield said.
Dennis Stork believes the new policy will have the most impact on young people.
“Hopefully, it will make them feel free to read more,” Stork said.
Burch said going fine-free is a growing trend among libraries, especially as competition from the internet continues to grow.
“Anything that we can do to encourage people to use the library is a good thing,” she said.
The new policy applies to all five branches of library in Corydon, Palmyra, Lanesville and Elizabeth, and includes the Frederick Porter Griffin Center for Local History and Genealogy.
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