LONG ISLAND - People on Long Island are saying farewell to library late fees.
It’s a growing trend where at least 55 of the 110 public libraries in Nassau and Suffolk counties have done away with or started limiting charges for late returns.
Plainedge Library director Michele Lipson feels fining library-goers really goes against the mission of the library’s open-door policy.
"We determined it’s more important to have people return than to have the materials return," she said. "It’s been shown that the fines didn’t deter people from returning the books what was deterring them was the money on their card."
Last week all three library systems in New York City announced that all late and replacement fees owed would be waived. And similar policies have already caught on in other cities including San Fransisco, Philadelphia and Denver.
"Over the last number of years with changes in the times, changes technology and everything sped up by COVID, many libraries realized late fees were just an impediment to put in front of patrons," said Kevin Verbesey, Director of Suffolk Cooperative Library System.
During the pandemic, people with books and other items held onto them from March through July of last year. When the library reopened, they ultimately waived the late fees and wiped the fines. They say it wasn’t about recouping losses but rather reestablishing connections within the community.
Libraries are keeping pace with the times and catering to the community by offering kindle and hotspot rentals, ebooks and other digital technology, crafts for teens and access to copy machines.
As for the fines - no, it doesn’t mean you’re off the hook altogether…
"We give them a few months - we send out one notice that it’s overdue, a second and then by the third we let them know it’s got to be replaced," said Maggie Rusch with Plainedge Public Library.