By JESSICA WETZLER
Daily News-Record 12/3/20
Overdue fines on borrowed materials can bring in $30,000 per year in revenue to Massanutten Regional Library, but a recent decision will change that.
For the first time in its 92 years in operation, Massanutten Regional Library no longer charges overdue fines to patrons as of Tuesday, according to a press release.
“We feel confident that the community will strongly support this decision — in the same way it supported fine forgiveness six months ago — and will respond with increased donations,” Library Director Lois Jones said in the press release.
When the announcement was posted on the library’s Facebook page, the post received more than 100 likes and 44 shares. Of the 10 comments, most expressed appreciation for the decision.
Jones said that nearly all patrons occasionally return books after their due date, which led to issues.
“At MRL, we’re committed to serving everyone in our community,” Jones said in the press release. “And that means making books and online resources freely available to everyone — regardless of their ability to pay a fine.”
The decision to eliminate overdue fines was several months in the making. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the library announced it would erase overdue fine balances from all users’ accounts.
Jones said that decision cleared accounts for thousands of users, including more than 4,000 children, the release says. It also removed a possible barrier to checking out books and using online resources offered by the library.
With the elimination of overdue fines, those who use the regional library will be able to access all physical and online collections without the concern of being charged a late fee, the release says. But due dates will remain important, Jones said, as materials will need to be renewed or returned on or before their due date.
“This is particularly important for a book which has a hold on it, which means that someone else is waiting to check it out,” Jones said in the release.
If a patron has too many items that have not been returned, Jones said that account will be blocked, much like the library did previously when overdue fines exceeded $5.
If an item is lost or damaged, a fee will still be imposed.
“This is a great time, and great reason, for a new donor to begin giving to MRL,” Jones said in the release. “Especially now, by supporting MRL, every donor is making an investment in our community.”