By Gary Lloyd
One area public library director says she has heard little about the fine increase for overdue books, music and audiobooks that began Oct. 1.
“I have heard very few comments from our patrons regarding the fine increase and have not noticed a difference in returned items,” said Clay Public Library Director Karen Moody.
On Oct. 1, public libraries in Jefferson County increased fines for those items from 15 cents per day to 25 cents per day. Fines for DVDs vary by library.
Jefferson County Library Cooperative Executive Director Pat Ryan said the fine increase is a result of funding cuts by the Jefferson County Commission. State funding has also been reduced, Ryan said. She said the other source of funding for the cooperative comes from membership fees by individual libraries, which increased 25.5 percent in the fiscal year that started Oct. 1. In fiscal year 2013, the library cooperative has had to dip into its emergency funds to pay its bills, Ryan said.
Ryan said individual libraries can keep the fine money, but the fine increase is designed to help the libraries pay their increased cooperative dues.
Trussville Public Library Director Emily Tish said the library received $27,829.49 in overdue fines for fiscal year 2013, which ran from Oct. 1, 2012, to Sept. 30, 2013. She said the library took in $1,194.81 in fines in September, which is “very low” due to the library’s “Food for Fines” drive.
“We waived $1,718 in fines during September for that number of non-perishable food items,” Tish said. “All food was donated to TEAM.”
Tish said the fines for overdue DVDs and language materials remain at $1 per day at the Trussville Public Library. She said circulation staff members have been verbally reminding patrons of the fine increase as they check out materials.
“As always, if materials are returned on time, public library materials are free for all card holders,” she said.
Moody said the Clay Public Library in September collected $200 in fines. From January through September, it collected $2,300 in overdue fines, she said.
Pinson Public Library Director April Wallace said she hasn’t yet noticed a difference because it hasn’t been long enough to notice an impact. She said, for example, if someone checked out a book that was due Sept. 29 and it was returned late Oct. 5, that person may have been charged 15 cents per day instead of 25 cents.
“There was a transitional period,” Wallace said.
Wallace said books that were checked out Oct. 1 would have had a due date of Oct. 22.
“We have signs and have informed of the increase through social media, but so far we haven’t had any comments about it, good or bad,” Wallace said.
Ryan encouraged people to take advantage of email notification and phone call reminders for materials that are due so that they can avoid late fines. Library patrons can sign up for notifications and make sure the library system has their most updated email address and phone number, Ryan said.
For more information about the Trussville, Clay and Pinson public libraries, visit www.trussvillelibrary.com, www.claylibrary.com or http://pinson.lib.al.us.
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