ANGOLA — Overdue materials fines are no longer a barrier for patrons of the Carnegie Public Library of Steuben County.
The library is officially fine free, though the policy does exclude the mobile internet hot spot devices.
Executive Director Sonya Dintaman said it was known that fines were a barrier that kept some people from using the library and that’s something she, the board and staff felt could be helped.
“We knew other libraries in the area had done this with a very positive response,” she said.
When she looked into how much of the budget for the library came from fines, Dintaman said she found it really wasn’t a big part.
“It’s a small amount compared to what could be open to our patrons,” she said.
As long as the item is checked out from the Carnegie Public Library of Steuben County, it is eligible to be fine free, even if the item was brought in from another library for a patron.
The policy does still charge for lost or damaged items. It also says items not returned within 28 days of the due date will be marked as lost and a replacement fee will be charged.
However, if the item is returned once the fee is assessed, it will be waived and the patron will owe nothing.
Staff were concerned, Dintaman said, about items with high demand being held onto longer now that the library is fine free, but so far she said they haven’t seen any issues.
The library also offers automatic renewal on circulated items, excluding hot spots.
As long as the patron has renewals left and there are no holds on the item, they will automatically be renewed in the system.
There are text and email alerts patrons can sign up for to be updated on the status of their items.
Going fine free has been “overwhelmingly positive,” said Dintaman.
She said they hope it will attract people back to the library that have previously left due to fines.