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Fort Worth Public Library goes fine-free

Posted Oct. 1, 2019

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Overdue fines are a thing of the past at the Fort Worth Public Library. Existing overdue fines are forgiven, and the Library will no longer charge overdue fines in the future.

“We don’t want there to be any obstacles to residents enjoying their Library,” said Fort Worth Public Library Director Manya Shorr. “Removing the burden of overdue fines is just one step in helping ensure everyone feels free to return to the Library.”

The change went into effect Oct. 1, and will help all patrons, but especially the estimated 18,000 cardholders with blocked accounts, who should feel free to return without any shame or frustration over overdue fines. Going fine-free allows the Fort Worth Public Library to align its practice with one of its main philosophical goals — to engage more customers by reducing barriers to access.

Another aspect of the change is that overdue materials are also free to be returned without penalty. Other large, metropolitan systems, including those in Denver, New Orleans and San Francisco, have gone fine-free and continue to see more items returned to their libraries.

“We want to be good stewards of city resources and materials,” Shorr said. “If our guests are returning their items in good condition for someone else to check out, we shouldn’t penalize them or make them feel unwelcome.”

Phyllis Grissom, chair of the Library Advisory Board, agreed.

“Fines really don’t bring books back; I think what fines do is they keep people out of the Library,” Grissom said. “They prevent them from checking out books, and they prevent them from going to the Library and seeing the other services that are offered there.”

Previously, Library cardholders’ accounts were blocked when cardholders owed at least $5 in overdue fines and replacement fees. Now that threshold has risen to $50. If an item is not returned after 90 days of notices, it will be designated as “lost” and cardholders will be charged a replacement fee. This is also true if an item is returned in damaged condition.

Youth accounts (ages 17 and younger) that reach the $50 level may be paid, or the child may volunteer or commit to reading a certain number of hours to pay off their fees. Library staff members are available at all locations to explain the read-off program to interested families.

Watch a brief video with more details, and learn more on the Library’s web pages.

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Fort Worh Affordability, Inc.: 5 p.m. Dec. 19, 2019; Fort Worth Housing Solutions Administrative Office Board Room, 1201 East 13th St.
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