Montgomery County Public Libraries will no longer impose or collect late fees for overdue items, according to a press release.
Officials will waive all outstanding late fines, allowing customers to resume borrowing materials and using library services.
“We know that some people are reluctant to use the library because they’re worried about the fines,” Anita Vassallo, MCPL director, said in the release. “We hope that anyone who stopped using our wonderful libraries will come back and take advantage of our great services.
“The new policy ensures that all county residents have equitable access to MCPL resources and services, while eliminating the financial barrier of overdue fines,” the release adds.
In FY 2019, prior to the pandemic, the system collected nearly $307,000 in fines, according to a library spokesperson. The system’s budget is not tied to fine revenues.
Books and other materials that customers check out will still have due dates for returns and will get notices about any items that are due for return. Borrowers will still be responsible for the cost of replacing lost or damaged materials, officials said.
More than 200 libraries across the country have implemented a fine-free model, according to MCPL. These libraries experienced increases in circulation, library card registrations, and got materials were previously thought lost returned.
These libraries have not reported any increase in materials not being returned because of the policy.
The Montgomery County change went into effect Feb. 1.
Libraries are currently operating under a “Holds-to-Go” service due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, service hours at branches have been cut. Branches are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and noon to 8 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday.