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Boston Public Library to waive overdue fines for 3 weeks in November

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  October 26, 2012 01:08 PM

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The Boston Public Library will waive fines for all overdue books, CDs and DVDs – regardless of how late the items may be – for three weeks in November to encourage library users to return the materials.

The campaign from Nov. 1 through Thanksgiving will be the largest overdue drive in the history of the Boston Public Library, which was established 164 years ago as the country’s first publicly-supported municipal library.

“Sometimes fines stop people from using their library,” library system president Amy E. Ryan said in a statement.

If a library user has an item that is overdue by more than 30 days, or if the user’s account reaches the maximum fine of $10, they are banned from borrowing or renewing materials until the fines are resolved.

“This campaign is about welcoming our books back and about welcoming people back,” Ryan added. “We see it as an opportunity to say thank you to our users and to make it easier for them to be part of the everyday library community.”

Overdue adult materials incur fines of 10 cents per day, up to $5. Children and teen materials incur fines of 5 cents per day, up to $2.50.

During the drive, the overdue materials can be returned to any of the library system’s locations to have their associated late fees cleared. If an item is permanently lost, library users will be responsible for paying for the item’s replacement cost, but will not have to pay any additional overdue fines.

Replacement costs can range from $16 to $50 depending on the item.

Library users who have outstanding overdue fines on already-returned materials will not have those unpaid fees waived.

The timing of the drive is also strategic. The month following the campaign, the Boston Public Library plans to upgrade its computer systems, and effort that will involve changes to its acquisitions, cataloging and lending system.

“Having these overdue books come back to the library in November will be of great help to us in transferring the most accurate data to the new system in December,” library services director Michael Colford said in a statement. “Even as our users may be thanking us for clearing a fine when they bring back an overdue book, we’ll be thanking them for helping update our information.”

Four years ago, the library system forgave all outstanding fines owed by youth users. In 2002, in celebration of Menino’s third inauguration as mayor, city libraries offered a similar, weekend-long campaign to encourage users to return overdue materials. And, overdue fines were temporarily lifted following the blizzard of 1978.

“The Boston Public Library offers something of value to everyone, and this overdue book drive makes one of the best deals in town even better,” said a statement from Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “I encourage Boston residents to visit their local branch, return any overdue items they may have, and continue to take advantage of the library’s excellent programs and services.”

For more information on library overdue rules, fines and fees, click here.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at
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