Late fees from the Natrona County Library are no more, the entity announced in a news release last Wednesday.
In an effort to make the library more accessible, the library has cleared any standing fines that patrons have already incurred, while eliminating new fines going forward.
Patrons will still be charged for items damaged or not returned.
“While fines were originally intended to encourage patrons to return materials, studies over the past several years show they had become a barrier to access for many people,” Library Director Lisa Scroggins said in the announcement. “People should not avoid their public library because they owe (or want to avoid owing) a fine.”
The American Library Association has in the past supported such moves by libraries in the U.S., both because data suggests fine forgiveness increases material return rates and because most fine-related suspended library cards in particular case studies have belonged to children younger than 14 years old.
Library materials will still have due dates, and patrons will still receive reminders that their items are coming due. But under the new system, unreturned items will be automatically renewed twice, unless another patron has placed a hold on the item.
If after the two automatic renewals the item is not returned, the library will continue to send notices. If an item remains unreturned, it would be considered lost and the patron would be charged to replace the item.
The change is effective immediately, according to the library’s release.
Converse, Johnson, Lincoln, Niobrara, Sublette and Sweetwater county libraries have also made similar changes.
“We are eliminating a barrier that often prevents community members from accessing our services,” Assistant Director Kate Mutch said in the release.
Follow local government reporter Morgan Hughes on Twitter @morganhwrites
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