Overdue library fees eliminated at TRL

Board hopes late items will no longer be a barrier to bringing in business

Have you been avoiding the library because of an overdue book?

The Timberland Regional Library Board of Directors voted last month to do away with fees for late items.

In addition, TRL is working to forgive its outstanding fees for late returns.

According to the system’s website (trl.org), “TRL is no longer charging overdue fines on our collection materials. In addition, we are working with our system vendor to remove existing overdue fines.”

Borrowers still will be responsible for fees incurred for lost or damaged items, TRL says.

“We’ve heard from patrons who have stopped using library services altogether because they can’t pay their fines, or they worry about being judged for being unable to pay … ,” the website reads, “eliminating overdue fines is a means to bringing people back into the library and supporting our communities.”

A statement on the TRL website claims, “it is costing more in staff time to collect overdue fines than TRL receives in fines revenue.”

TRL estimates fines make up less than 1% of its annual revenue.

If a patron keeps an item 28 days or more past its due date, the item will be considered lost and the patron will be charged a fee accordingly. Patrons with more than $10 in fees will lose their borrowing privileges. But bring the item back, and the associated fee will be forgiven.

The new policy was approved by the board in December and started Jan. 1.