Local libraries are turning a page and eliminating overdue fines.
Jody Meza, library director for both the Orland Free and Willows Public libraries, said the change has taken effect in Orland, Willows, Elk Creek and Bayliss libraries in Glenn county.
Meza said she has spoken with other library directors who have been trying to eliminate overdue fees and said they have had positive experiences.
“They had nothing but positive things to say about how it brought back a lot of people like families and kids who had stopped using the library,” she said. “... I wanted to see that effect in our community.”
Meza said staff talked about the concern of items not being returned.
However, according to a staff report from the Aug. 27 Willows City Council meeting, there were 580 overdue items at the Willows Public Library, 1,759 accounts with fines and 1,294 blocked accounts – an account is blocked after a patron has $2 in library fines.
According to the staff report from a June 17 Orland City Council meeting, there were 660 overdue items at the Orland Free Library, 3,562 accounts with fines and 1,414 blocked accounts – an account at the Orland library is blocked after a patron has $5 in fines.
Meza said these numbers kind of show that the items are mostly being returned but accounts are blocked due to the fines not being paid.
She said that many of the accounts belong to children – so they have been unable to use the library.
By eliminating the fines, those children will be able to access the library once again.
“Those kids having access to the library, not only to check out books but use the computers ...” Meza said. “It not only benefits them for being able to complete their homework, but it’s positive for literacy overall.”
All current library fines are being forgiven, Meza said. Also, if people have an overdue item, no matter how long it’s been overdue or a person has had it, they can bring it into the library without being fined.
“We just want to get that book back so somebody else can enjoy it,” she said.
While fines for overdue books will no longer be collected, people will still be responsible for paying for an item if it is lost or damaged.
Additionally, Meza said there’s a limit of 25 items allowed to be checked out on an account and if those items are not returned, the patron will not be able to check out any more items until the others are returned.
According to the staff reports, this will result in a loss of approximately $2,300 annually in fines at the Willows Public Library and $2,500 at the Orland Free Library, however there is a possible greater return of materials that could offset the need to purchase replacements and a reduction in staff time pursuing collecting fine payments.
“I’m really hoping we see those kids and families come back and start using the library again,” Meza said. “It would be great for them and the community to have everybody reading.”