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Another library ends fines for overdue books to boost access

Woman returns library book after 73 years
Posted at 10:29 AM, Dec 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-29 10:29:34-05

CHARDON, Ohio (AP) — Another Ohio library is moving to a fine-free system, becoming part of a national trend of dropping fines to eliminate barriers to library access.

The Geauga County Public Library in northeastern Ohio will eliminate overdue fines beginning Wednesday except for telescopes, new video games and Blu-Ray DVDs, The News-Herald reported this week. Rather than amassing fines, borrowers will have their cards blocked 21 days after the due date. Returning the overdue items unblocks the card.

The move allows the library to join other systems that have gone fine-free to reduce barriers to service and the negative association with fines, said library director Ed Worso.

"Public libraries serve their communities by providing free access to information, services, resources and space," Worso said. "Fines can create unintended barriers to the library and can deter borrowing completely for some families."

Staff members have reported conversations with people who say they haven't been to the library in years because a child ran up fines, Worso said, calling that an unfortunate consequence of the fine system.

Columbus, Cleveland and Toledo are among Ohio library systems that are also fine-free.