VOORHEES, N.J. – The Camden County Library System is getting rid of all overdue fees for books and other items that are returned past their due date starting July 1. The library is eliminating the overdue fees to remove a barrier to its resources furthering its mission to give people equal access to information and services.
“Camden County is joining with several other progressive communities around the country in removing this antiquated barrier to the services provided by the Library,” Freeholder Melinda Kane, liaison to the Camden County Library System said in a press release. “We should not be punishing individuals who want to read or learn, but instead be finding ways to encourage members of our community to utilize these valuable resources. With this change, economic security will no longer limit the capacity of families and children to learn in Camden County.”
Beginning July 1, any outstanding overdue fees from any of Camden County’s eight library branches will be forgiven if the overdue item is returned or, if lost, paid for. Some limited availability or high demand items will continue to have extended use fees. Any materials that are due to other libraries attained through Interlibrary Loan will still be subject to fines.
The Camden County Library System serves a diverse group of constituents, too many of whom struggle to afford an overdue fee for a book or video that they’ve failed to return. Library officials believed that late fees do not make anyone more likely to return items on time, and keep them from visiting the library once fines build up.
“Some have reported a sense of embarrassment when they walk into a library knowing that they have dozens or hundreds of dollars built up in unpaid fines,” Kane said. “We’ve found that this feeling is not motivating, but is debilitating. Eliminating overdue fees does not mean that individuals who loan materials are devoid of responsibility for their items. It means that financially vulnerable members of our community aren’t cut off from our resources.”
Materials borrowed from the library will still have due dates. After the due date, the borrower will have 14 days to return the materials. If the materials are not returned after the 14 day grace period, the individual will not be able to borrow anything else until the materials are returned or paid for.
The library believes that eliminating overdue fees will not affect library services. The revenue derived from fines and late fees are only one quarter of one percent of the library’s annual budget according to library officials.
Camden County Library System has locations in Camden, Bellmawr, Gloucester Township, Haddon Township, Merchantville, Winslow Township and Voorhees Township. The Library is governed and supported by the Camden County Board of Freeholders and the Camden County Library Commission. For more information about the Camden County Library System, visit them online at http://www.camdencountylibrary.org/ or by calling (856) 772-1636.
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