The Schenectady County Public Library’s (SCPL) Board of Trustees adopted a new policy last night that eliminates the imposition of late fines for borrowed materials that are returned after their due date. The new policy will take effect on April 1, 2022.
Earlier this month the County Legislature passed a resolution asking the Board of Trustees to eliminate late fines at all 9 branch libraries for materials that are returned after their due date. Currently there are over 12,000 library cardholders, which represents about 26% of cardholders, who have a $5.00 or greater balance in fines on their SCPL account. This effectively blocks them from borrowing materials or using computers which can be a literacy barrier, and studies have shown that overall patrons are more likely to return their borrowed books and materials when late fines are not assessed.
“Libraries are a valuable asset to the community and we want to make sure that they can continue to encourage lifelong learning, exploration and innovation in all of our residents,” said Schenectady County Legislator Sara Mae Pratt, Chair of the Education & Libraries Committee. “On behalf of my colleagues on the County Legislature, I’d like to thank the Board of Trustees for creating a new policy that removes financial barriers that disproportionately affect low-income households’ ability to access all the services our libraries provide. We believe this change in policy will not only bring more people back to our libraries, it will also encourage patrons with overdue books to bring them back without worrying about being charged late fines.”
Highlights of the Updated Policy
- Patrons will be notified if an item they borrowed is overdue.
- Items will be declared lost after they have been overdue for 21 days. At that time a replacement fee will be charged and a bill will be sent to the account holder.
- If patrons return an item, even after it has been declared lost, the replacement fee will be removed from their account.
- If a patron pays to replace an item but later finds the item and returns it within 90 days of its past due date, they may receive a refund for the replacement fee from the library.
- Borrowing privileges will be suspended for cardholders with replacement fees totaling $100 or more, which applies to borrowing physical materials. Patrons can still use their library cards to access e-books and library computers.
The official policy is available at http://www.scpl.org/about_us/policies.html.
Previously assessed late fines will be waived for patrons who have returned borrowed materials after their due dates. Replacement fees will still be assessed for lost or damaged materials.
Learn more about SCPL, including branch locations and operating hours, upcoming programing and more at www.scpl.org.