By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter —
OKLAHOMA CITY – On Wednesday, June 30, the Metropolitan Library has announced that the library will forgive the overdue fine balances for all customers from July 1 of this year to July 1, 2022.
“You heard that right,” said executive director, Larry Nash White. “We’re waiving your existing fines and going fine-free as part of a trial program for the next year.”
The Library has compiled some frequently asked questions about this test run on their Dog-Eared Blog. If you don’t the information you need, reach out through [email protected] and the library will get you answers to your questions directly.
Say Goodbye to Overdue Fines
“At Metro Library, our mission is ‘connecting our diverse communities with resources and experiences to educate and enrich lives,’” according to White. “This past year has shown us just how important a role the library plays in the lives of our customers and our communities. You shouldn’t have to worry about life getting in the way and preventing you from using the library,” he continued.
White added, “To better live out our mission, we made two big decisions:
- On June 30, 2021, we will forgive the overdue fine balances for all customers. Fees for damaged or lost items are not included in this action.
- On July 1, 2021, we will start a one-year pilot project of going fine free for all Metro-owned materials except technology (hotspots, Chromebooks, laptops, iPads) and Experience Passes, and titles borrowed via interlibrary loan. Metro-owned children’s materials are already fine free.
“We’ll give you some time to celebrate and collect yourselves,” White said. “OK, all better? Good.”
In a Q&A with White, the website offers more information:
Why did you make these decisions?
“We want you to use the library, and overdue fines are a barrier to access,” White said. “To meet the information needs of our communities, we are committed to reducing barriers to access. Fine forgiveness and going fine free help us achieve that commitment.”
Can I still accrue overdue fines?
“It depends on what you’re borrowing. We’ll still have overdue fines on titles borrowed via interlibrary loan ($.50 per day up to the replacement cost of the title) and on Metro-owned items like Experience Passes ($1 per day to a max of $30), Wi-Fi hot spots ($.50 per day to a max of $30), and in-library use only equipment like laptops, Chromebooks and iPads ($5 per hour to a max of $60 per day).”
Without overdue fines, how will you ensure that titles are returned?
“We plan to increase our browbeating by 60%. Just kidding. Many library systems that previously went fine free reported no increase in overdue titles while other systems reported a surge in returned titles,” White added. “If you have a title checked out that’s more than 60 days overdue, you’ll be billed for the item, and you won’t be able to borrow titles until the item is paid for or returned.”
How will these decisions impact the library’s budget?
“Historically, fine revenue has represented less than 1 percent of the library’s budget,” White said. “Most of the library’s funding comes from ad valorem (property) tax, which is a very stable and reliable source of funding.”
But I like paying overdue fines because I feel like I’m supporting the library.
“We have better ways you can support the library. Visit supportmls.org to learn about contributing to the Friends of the Metropolitan Library System and/or to the Library Endowment Trust.
“We’re excited about these changes, and we hope you are too. In fact, we’d like to hear from you. You can reach us at metrolibrary.org/askalibrarian or you can share your thoughts with us on social media by tagging us and using the hashtags #FineFree and #FineForgiveness. Bonus points for the best reaction GIFs.
To learn more about the Metropolitan Library System, visit metrolibrary.org.