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Charleston library eliminates late fees

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CHARLESTON — Fines are no longer being imposed for late returns of materials to the Charleston Carnegie Public Library.

A news release from the library said the elimination of the fines went into place on Monday.

In the release, library Director Chris Houchens said the decision was made because fines “have become a barrier” for low-income people who want to use the library.

Late fines “add to the social inequity found in within communities,” he said.

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“Fines neither teach responsibility nor motivate patrons to return items on time,” Houchens said. “Instead, fines make patrons less likely to return to the library and they keep community members from using their library out of fear of a fine they cannot afford.”

Information concerning the decision on the library’s website, charlestonlibrary.org, said staff are going through patron records and removing fines that were imposed earlier.

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It also said late fines make up less than 2% of the library’s annual budget. It said the amount is “still significant” but library officials feel the benefit of removing the finds outweighs the loss of income.

The website information said the decision affects only fines for materials returned late. The library will still charge fees for lost, damaged or unreturned items, it said.

It also said patrons will continue to be responsible for returning items on time. A patron’s library card will be blocked if that patron has three or move items overdue, it said.

Also, according to the website, an item 30 days past due will be considered lost and the patron will be charged a replacement fee.


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