WILLIAMSBURG — Williamsburg Regional Library (WRL) patrons no longer have to pay overdue fines as of Sept. 23.
WRL eliminated overdue fines during the pandemic, but at their September meeting, the library board of trustees voted to permanently extend the elimination of fines.
Library director Betsy Fowler said that “going fine-free is an important step for WRL as it ensures that money is no longer a barrier to the community getting library materials or services. Providing equitable access is one of the library’s core values, and this decision emphasizes our commitment to access for all.”
WRL is among a number of libraries across the country that are eliminating fines.
WRL said that it is finding that users who may have been reluctant to check out materials for themselves or their children are now more comfortable using the library as a result of the decision.
Back in July, the library began allowing most items to be renewed up to four times if they are not on hold for other users.
Circulation Services Director Alicia Phinney said that permanently eliminating overdue fines helps create a more welcoming environment in the library for the community.
“Our relationship with our users at the checkout desk has become so much more collaborative and positive since we stopped charging for overdue materials,” Phinney said. “Rather than being punitive, we are working with users on getting the materials back whatever situations they face.”
While patrons will no longer have to pay fines on overdue materials, they will still be charged for items that are lost or damaged.
WRL is also implementing an enhanced reminder service for library materials to help users keep track of their checked-out items.
The reminder service will give users a pre-overdue notice via email, text or automated phone call three days before an item is due. They will then receive overdue notices at one, seven, 14 and 21 days after the item is overdue, and at 30 days, the item will be declared lost, and charges will accrue.
At 45 days, users will be given a final notice, and if the item is not returned or the fees paid at 60 days overdue, the account will be turned over to a collection agency.