Brooke County Library to drop most fines

WELLSBURG — Beginning Sunday, the Brooke County Public Library will no longer be charging overdue fines on late books, audio books and CDs.

Director Alexandra Eberle said the idea behind changing the policy is to remove as many barriers between area residents and the library as possible. She said the library was required to have at least two weeks for fine forgiveness every year in order to be eligible for many government grants. She said the Brooke County Library Board has been extending those two weeks to cover the month of September for the past few years, but this year they agreed to go a step even further.

“A lot of libraries are moving away from fines,” she said. “It can be a real barrier especially in areas with low socioeconomic status. Hopefully this brings some of the people back (to the library.)”

Eberle said by getting people back in the libraries, not only are they promoting literacy, but the many other programs modern libraries have to offer.

“We just want to start that conversation,” she said. “(Checking out a book) sometimes gives the clerk the chance to tell a patron about special programs. We may tell people about something they can do online and they confess to us they aren’t really great with a computer. We can then tell them about our computer classes or offer one-on-one help.”

Eberle said many people still think of fines as a money-making scheme for libraries, but really it accounts for very little of their annual budget. She said mostly the fines were there to help assure things were returned to the library.

“We just want you to bring the materials back,” she said.

Eberle said the library will still have fines on other items, such as DVDs, and there will be replacements fees charged for anything that is lost or damaged.

Eberle said the library is willing to work with people on a case-by-case basis. She said she has even allowed patrons to “work off” fines in the past. She said the best thing to do is simply talk to the library if you think your card is compromised.

Eberle said September is Library Card Sign-up Month. This year’s ambassadors are the cast of “Toy Story.” She said the library hopes to get cards in the hands of as many people as possible.

“We want to remind people we are here,” she said.

(Neeley can be contacted at aneeley@heraldstaronline.com.)


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