Eliminating library material late fines has become a national trend. Recently, the American Library Association passed a resolution stating that fines do not meet the core mission of the modern library. The resolution says, in part, monetary fines “create a barrier in public relations and absorb valuable staff time applying, collecting and managing dues.”
We agree. So beginning on Sept. 1, the Shelter Island Public Library will be going fine-free.
In making the decision to go fine-free, the library director and the Board of Trustees looked at other local libraries that do not collect fines. The reaction at these libraries has been overwhelmingly positive. As overdue fines made up a small percentage of the Shelter Island Public Library’s budget, this change will not cause a financial hardship. If you are feeling a little guilty about keeping your materials past the due date, the library is always happy to accept a donation.
On Sept. 1, all existing late fees will be deleted. Any fees owed for lost or damaged items will remain and the account must be settled before checking out any new materials. There will still be due dates on all items checked out and we believe our patrons will honor those due dates. However, should an item be kept well past its due date, the patron will be billed for the replacement cost of the item. If the patron returns the item, that charge will be eliminated. Until the item is returned or paid for, the patron will not be able to check out further materials.
The library hopes that this new initiative will strengthen the community by improving access to library programs, services and materials. We hope that all Island residents and visitors will think of the library as a welcoming place to learn, explore and discover new interests.