Monroeville, 11 other Allegheny County libraries waive late fines | TribLIVE.com
Monroeville

Monroeville, 11 other Allegheny County libraries waive late fines

Dillon Carr
1665592_web1_te-libraryfines1-091919
Dillon Carr | Tribune-Review
The Monroeville Public Library, and 11 others, has eliminated late fines as part of a pilot program expected to last through the end of the year.
1665592_web1_te-humandignity01-070419
Dillon Carr | Tribune-Review
Monroeville Public Library

Got late fines from the library?

Not anymore — at least for members of the Monroeville Public Library and 11 others in Allegheny County.

As of Sept. 1, those past due library fines have been deleted and the libraries will not continue fining patrons for missed due-back dates.

The hope is that eliminating fines will bring more people through library doors while ensuring that items are returned.

“We think that fines really are a barrier to service, and we’re excited that people will have fewer barriers and hopefully those who have been chased off of libraries in the past will come back and try it again,” said Nicole Henline, Monroeville library director.

Henline said the new model will be tested by 12 libraries through the end of the year. At that point, directors will “look at the numbers” and other libraries who are interested can join in eliminating fines.

Monroeville Public Library operates on a $1.7 million budget. The estimated revenue generated by fines in 2019 was about $18,000, or 1% of the budget, which was similar to 2018’s number, Henline said.

Henline said that revenue would be recouped by additional fundraising efforts and a 9% increase in the state’s library subsidy — the first since 2015 and the first major increase since 2007, Henline said.

And if libraries cannot make up for the loss in revenue, Henline said, they could potentially apply for a grant that would cover it.

Henline is optimistic the change will be permanent.

“We’ve already seen some very positive feedback from users. … We had a book come back from 1987 or 1988,” she said.

The participating libraries will still expect borrowed items to be returned by a specific date. If those items are not returned, the library will work to get them returned. If they are returned within six weeks after the due date, the late fines will be waived.

But if the item is not returned after six weeks of the original due date, the library will send a paper bill for the cost of its replacement.

Fees will still be incurred for use of library equipment, like printers, or if items are returned damaged.

Other libraries participating in the program include:

• Baldwin Borough Public Library

• Braddock Carnegie Library

• C.C. Mellor Memorial Library

• Carnegie Free Library of Swissvale

• Three locations of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

• F.O.R. Sto-Rox Library

• Millvale Community Library

• Penn Hills Library

• Wilkinsburg Public Library

Tina Zins, director for Penn Hills Library, said about 18% of the library’s patrons have fines that prevent them from taking out additional items.

“I think this could regain those patrons, maybe even add new card holders and increase circulation,” Zins said. “There may be people hesitant to check out new materials in fear of accumulating new fees.”

Most libraries prevent patrons from taking out additional items if they have accumulated at least $10 in fines.

“We want to improve our service,” Zins said. “This is a good opportunity to test a different service model and we hope it’s successful.”

Participating libraries join others across the nation in a growing trend toward abolishing late fines altogether. The move aligns with the American Library Association’s resolution passed in January that called monetary library fines “a form of social inequity,” according to EBSCO, a library search engine.

The ALA’s resolution also urged libraries to move toward eliminating fines.

Click here to view a map, published by the Urban Libraries Council, that includes libraries who have gone “fine free.”

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | Monroeville
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.