PITTSBURG — Did you get sucked into your book, enchanted by the words within and now you are several days late on your library book?
As of June 1, Pittsburg Public Library has eliminated overdue fines. The Pittsburg Public Library Board of Trustees approved the new policy on overdue, lost or damaged items on May 8.
“We have been talking about this for quite a while, because we do recognize that —and we’ve heard from kids themselves — they just don’t come to the library or avoid it because of the fear of accumulating library fines,” PPL Director Bev Clarkson said.

Clarkson said the library wants to take that away.
“It’s been a trend in the library world to do this,” Clarkson said adding, she’s done a lot of research on it and found that libraries across the country are going “fine free.”
“We are hoping anyone that is holding on to late materials to return them, people who are afraid to bring them back can have a fresh start at the library,” Clarkson said.

Clarkson said the fines were a “very minimal part” of their budget.
The elimination of the fines will also give the people employed at the front desk at the library more time helping patrons with other things, such as online resources, Clarkson said.

The library also wanted to get rid of the fines as a “gesture of goodwill”, Clarkson said.
“We are well supported by our community and we want to respond to that and give back to them as well,” she said.

PPL Assistant Director AnnDee Peterson said with children who may have left their book behind, for example at their other parent’s house for a while that they are better off not taking the book back to the library, and might avoid going to the library thereafter.

They might be embarrassed for letting it go so long, she and Clarkson added.
“You think you might get scolded when you come back but really we just want the materials back,” Peterson said. “Everybody has different situations and we’re not in a position to judge.”

If a patron is into a 900 page book, people can keep it for a few more days until it's finished, “that’s fine, finish the book and bring it back and you don’t owe us 40 cents,” Peterson said.

Patrons are encouraged to contact the library to renew the book or use the library text notification “Shoutbomb” which is a service that helps library patrons manage their library account via text messages, Clarkson said. People can learn more about Shoutbomb by contacting PPL.

Books can be renewed unless the book is on hold for somebody else.
“We want people to be responsible for their material, enjoy the library programs and come back,” Peterson said.

Patrons will still receive notifications about returning materials.
“People might have the impression that there’s no responsibility now,” Clarkson said. “Of course, not, no fine doesn’t mean no responsibility.”

The library has a policy which deals with long overdue books.
“If they are not returned and there’s no correspondence at all 29 days after the due date — you’ve had that book for six weeks by now — then if it’s not returned we are going to consider it lost and charge for the item,” Clarkson said.

The patron's library card will be blocked and they will not be able to check out anything else at that time. If the item is not returned 29 days past its due date the library considers it lost and the patron will be charged the cost of replacement.

The dog does eat a book once in a while, they said, urging patrons to still contact them if they have a lost or damaged book and the directors will help resolve the issue.

The issue could be resolved by returning the item, paying for the item or by negotiating a payment plan to pay for the item, the new policy reads. For items which are 39 days overdue with accounts with charges of $100 or more will be sent to a collection agency, according to the policy.

Clarkson and Peterson said they will make every attempt to work with patrons in resolving their late fee issue.