The Rowan County Public Library has officially gone fine-free as of Feb. 1, 2020.
Joining a growing number of libraries in Kentucky, RCPL will no longer charge overdue fines on items that are returned late. The Library Board of Trustees voted in favor of this decision in order to remove barriers to library use and to open the door to literacy, especially for children.
Libraries use fines to ensure materials are returned in a timely manner so that others may use them. However, libraries have found that fines can discourage people from using libraries because they are afraid of being fined. People are also reluctant to return overdue items because of the inability to pay fines or due to embarrassment. Fines can punish even the most loyal and active library users and often disproportionately affect low-income households.
Under the new policy, patrons at RCPL are still asked to return or renew their items by the due date, but are no longer charged daily overdue fines. Patrons will still be held responsible for the replacement cost of damaged or lost items. They will be charged and blocked for unreturned items after 30 days. Once items are returned they can be un-blocked and continue to borrow library materials. The library will also continue to charge for copying, printing, faxing, and for private bookings in its Community Room.
Library systems that have gone fine-free, like Columbus, OH and Nashville, TN, have found that the public has responded favorably to the change and it has brought many people back to use library services. They report that patrons continue to return items on-time and have a more positive experience at the library. While some libraries continue to collect fines as a method to fund their library, RCPL’s fines provided a very small percentage of its operating budget.
The Rowan County Public Library believes that these changes will be beneficial for the staff and the community.
(provided by the Rowan County Public Library)