Library nixes fines, adds new lending program


By Rachel Madison

  At the Liberty Hill Public Library, fines are officially going to be a thing of the past.

Library Director Angela Palmer said the library has already been waiving late fines over the last year due to the pandemic, but she decided to make the elimination of fines permanent.

“This is something a lot of libraries are doing now,” she said. “Libraries have discovered that people who owe fines—even if it’s not much—it’s keeping them from using libraries. What revenue we get from fines is so little that we would rather have people come to the library, borrow materials and then return them without having to worry about a dollar fine here and there.”

The length items can be checked out will remain at two weeks, but if patrons are a little late, they won’t be penalized.

  “People will still get reminders to return their items, and if they lose or damage a book, they will have to pay full cost for that,” Palmer said. “After they’ve had an item out for a long time, it’ll automatically go to lost status and they’ll have to return it before they can check more items out.”

Palmer said her decision was made in part because she’s learned that fines aren’t really that effective.

“People return things more when they don’t have fines,” she said. “We want to limit the barrier of access.”

  In addition to doing away with fines, the library has also added a new lending program in the form of games, from classics like Scrabble and Checkers to more recently popular picks like What Do You Meme? and Exploding Kittens. Palmer has purchased more than 50 new games for the library that can be checked out for a week at a time.

“We wanted to have a program that is family-oriented and non-screen time,” she said. “We have all sorts of classic board games and card games.  Also, to get the program going, when someone checks out a game this summer, they will receive a bag of snacks to go with it.”

  Palmer said most of the games are family friendly, while a few are geared more toward teens and adults. The games will be available for checkout starting June 14.

“We’re going to have a display that will have the pictures of the board games, and people can bring the picture to the front desk to check that game out,” she added. “Plus you’ll get a bag of goodies to go with it.”

The library recently reopened after being closed to the public due to the pandemic. Hours at the library are now Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Curbside services are still offered on Thursdays to seniors and others who feel vulnerable, Palmer added.