January 19, 2020
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Ellsworth Public Library will go fine free for children’s materials

Community Author: Abby Morrow
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ELLSWORTH — Starting this fall, the Ellsworth Public Library will no longer charge overdue fines on children’s materials. The change will go into effect Sept. 1.

Fines will not be charged on children’s and young adult books or DVDs. The library will continue to charge fees for the replacement of lost and damaged materials. Fines on adult books and DVDs will still be collected.

“Overdue fines do not provide significant revenue for the library and can be a barrier to library use, particularly for low income families,” said Library Director Amy Wisehart. “Library card access is blocked when fines reach $10, an amount that is sometimes out of reach for families struggling to get by. We are pleased to enhance access to children’s materials, which are so important for building literacy skills and a lifelong love of reading.”

Last year, library fines for children’s materials brought in $3,000, less than half of one percent of the overall library budget. The library has launched a fundraising campaign to offset the $3,000 in revenue loss, with a goal of raising the $3,000 by the end of the year. An anonymous donor has given $300 to kick off the campaign. Donations may be mailed or dropped off at the library.

“Anything we can do to encourage library use by our youth is a great thing,” said Library Trustee President Ron Fortier.

A recent study by the Colorado State Library found that overdue fees on children’s materials are not particularly effective in encouraging the timely return of materials, are costly to administer, and act as a deterrent to low income families using the library.

The American Library Association recently passed a resolution encouraging libraries to consider eliminating fines.

Many libraries nationwide and in Maine are eliminating fines. The Blue Hill Public Library went fine free for children’s materials earlier this year. The Northeast Harbor Public Library and the Bangor Public Library are completely fine free.