As of July 1, library patrons in Buncombe County no longer have to worry about paying a fine when they return an overdue book.
Buncombe County Public Libraries (BCPL) permanently eliminated late fines for overdue library materials, and will forgive all previous overdue fines so that everyone can start a new chapter at the library.
While libraries have traditionally viewed overdue fines as a means to ensure that materials are returned on time, research shows that fines may actually discourage people from using the library. Fines can be punitive to regular library users and disproportionately affect low-income households and children.
“Eliminating library fines will greatly reduce barriers to access and ensure that everyone in our community has the opportunity to enjoy the wide variety of resources the library has to offer,” said Library Director Jim Blanton.
This change is a part of a movement from libraries nationwide, guided by recommendations from the American Library Association in an effort to increase free public access to library services. The decision to go fine free locally was made with staff input, endorsed by the Library Advisory Board, and approved by the Board of Commissioners.
BCPL will continue to send reminders to return items when materials are due and a separate notice when they are past due. Anyone who fails to return, loses or damages a library item, will be responsible for paying a replacement fee. Any item overdue for 45 days will be considered lost, and patrons will incur a charge for that item.
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