Harrison County Library says goodbye to fines for late items

Harrison County Library no longer charges late fees

CORYDON, Ind. (WAVE) - Thousands of people use the libraries in Harrison County, but sometimes the cost associated with forgetting those borrowed books can deter readers from coming back.

Sophie Brengman is an avid reader. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Sophie Brengman is an avid reader. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

By eliminating fines for checking out items, librarians are hopeful they can change that.

Inside the library Monday, kids came through regularly to check out books with the summer reading program.

“I like fantasy and I also like sci-fi, so I checked out a lot of ‘Star Wars’ books because I love ‘Star Wars,’” Sophie Brengman, 12, said.

She and her family come up to the Corydon library from Lanesville. She said they’ve been participating in the summer reading program for as long as she can remember, and they read a lot of books.

“100 maybe? At least,” she said.

Her family comes regularly. But often, others with fines won’t. Some just can’t afford to pay.

“Every summer we would have people coming back in with existing fines and it would keep some children from being able to participate in the summer reading program,” Alisa Burch, the director of Harrison County Public Library, said.

So those fines are going away.

Instead, if a person’s book or DVD is overdue, their account will be frozen and they’ll get a phone call reminder. If it’s over 30 days and the person still has the item, the cost of it will be billed to their account.

If the library patron finds the book or item within 180 days and returns it before paying the cost, the library will waive the fee. However, if someone pays the cost for the unreturned item and finds it later, Burch said they can’t reimburse in those cases.

This new fine system is perfect for Brengman and her family.

“It’s nice because we often have books late,” she said.

Burch hopes the new system will make it easier for people to come back.

“We wanted to remove the barriers for those with low income who cannot afford to pay the fine," she said. "So hopefully we’ll get more children in this summer and more adults using the library.”

Part of going fine free means they’ve also erased thousands of overdue bills from their system. The library hopes it will inspire more people to come back to the library in the coming months.

Library hours and information can be found by clicking or tapping here.

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