Metropolitan Library System doing away with overdue fines for one year

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – If you are a little late returning a book to the Metropolitan Library System, organizers say you no longer need to fear a fine.

Beginning July 1, the Metropolitan Library System will begin a one-year pilot program of no overdue or late fines on adult and young adult materials.

“The elimination of late fines from the Metropolitan Library System is a change that will reduce community disparities and increase access to the library and its resources for those who need it most,” MLS Executive Director Dr. Larry Nash White said. “The mission of the library is to share information – not generate revenue.” 

Organizers say revenue from overdue fines currently accounts for less than 1% of the library’s annual operating budget. 

Officials say that customers will still need to return the items they check out.

If an item is not returned within 60 days of when it is due, it is considered lost and will be billed to the customer.

Also, while there will be no late fees on MLS-owned books and materials, organizers say the Experience Passes, interlibrary loan materials, and technology items like Wi-Fi hotspots and Chromebooks will still acrue fines.

In addition to its one year fine-free pilot program, MLS is providing a one-time waiving of existing overdue MLS fines to all customers, totaling over $400,000 effective July 1, 2021. This waiver will apply to overdue fines only; it will not apply to charges for lost or damaged items on customer accounts. It is expected that between 40,000 – 50,000 customers will benefit from this waiver of overdue fines.  

“Our goal is to give our customers access to the library again,” White said. “If you’ve been staying away from the library because of overdue fines, we want you back.”

Overdue fines on all children’s materials were permanently removed in 2020.

“This is something we have been thinking about for years as more and more libraries have been going fine free,” MLS Deputy Director of Public Service Chris Kennedy said. “This ensures that we provide equal access to books and materials to every one of our customers.” 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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