August 6 – The MidPointe Library System and Lane Libraries, the two largest library systems in Butler County, join other leaders in library lending to become “fine-free” and eliminate overdue fines.
Travis Bautz, executive director of MidPointe, said eliminating fines improves customer service, increases access for patrons and allows library staff to spend more time on “essential and valuable engagements” with customers.
Fines passed on customers’ accounts will be waived starting this week, he said. Patrons will remain responsible for all charges on their accounts. Charges generally represent charges for items that have been lost or damaged.
“We always depend on our visitors to stay conscientious about the items they check,” he said. “While customers are not ‘nickel and dimed’ with fines, charges are still levied for items damaged, lost, or not returned at all.”
Under the new policy, if documents are more than 21 days overdue, the library will assume the documents are lost and charge patrons the cost of replacing the documents, according to Bautz.
The overdue fines collected by MidPointe in recent years have steadily declined, with the introduction of automatic renewals and an increase in digital borrowing, he said.
MidPointe suspended collection of fines in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MidPointe Library System serves a population of nearly 200,000 people in the towns of Middletown, Trenton and Monroe and the townships of West Chester, Liberty, Lemon, Madison and Wayne with a collection of nearly half a million documents .
Lane, with branches in Hamilton, Fairfield and Oxford, began suspending fines at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and officially adopted the policy in November 2020, said Carrie Mancuso, director of public relations.
She said that over the past year, feedback from customers receiving quality free items has been “very positive.”
Mancuso said the library system has waived past fines to help people with blocked accounts resume using the library.
Overdue reminders will be sent before and after an item’s due date. Items which are not checked in after the loan period will be declared lost and charged to the customer’s account, although the customer has one year to return the item and the replacement cost is waived as long as the item is is in normal condition, she said.