Book Benefits

Garrison, Beacon libraries announce programs

The Desmond-Fish Public Library in Garrison says it will eliminate overdue fees for materials it owns as of Jan. 2, citing studies that have found fines disproportionately impact low-income households. Fees will still be accessed for lost items.

Citing revenue from a tax increase approved by Garrison residents earlier this year, the library also said it will extend its hours each week beginning Jan. 5 and open at 10 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursday instead of 1 p.m. Its hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

In addition, the library will begin offering mobile hotspots and laptops available for checkout and expand its digital collections.

In Beacon, the Howland Public Library will launch its annual “Food for Fines” program on Jan. 2 in which patrons can reduce or eliminate outstanding late fees by donating items for local food pantries.

Donated items must be non-perishable, labeled, undamaged and unexpired, including low-sodium canned items, as well as peanut butter, tuna, canned chicken and Parmalat milk. The library will also be accepting personal-care products such as toothpaste, soap, feminine hygiene products and shampoo.

Food for Fines does not apply to fees for items that have been lost, damaged or checked out from other libraries.

6 thoughts on “Book Benefits

  1. I want to add some details about our new policy that eliminates fines on overdue items owned by the Desmond-Fish Public Library. It is part of a national trend, in keeping with the core mission of libraries to ensure equitable access to resources for everyone. Studies have shown that fines disproportionately impact low-income households, which are often the patrons that depend on libraries the most.

    Doing away with late fees is a simple way to break down barriers and bring patrons who need our services back to the library. We will still have due dates, and we encourage patrons to return their items on time. Lost-item fees may be applied to a patron’s account if items aren’t returned in a timely manner but those fees will be waived once the items have been returned.

    As libraries adopt fine-free models across the nation, return rates have been shown to remain the same and many libraries are seeing increases in circulation, card holders and the return of materials.

    McCreery is director of the Desmond-Fish library.

  2. Not only is it offensive to presume poor people lack the responsibility to return books in a timely manner, but this misguided compassion will now make it harder to get items for everyone as there will be no incentive to return on time.

    A consequence to returning an item late is a good thing. This ridiculous rule will only encourage everyone, despite their ability to pay, to take advantage. Let’s see how long it will take to get popular items after this. Next they will get rid of library cards — how about just leaving the library doors open? [via Facebook]

  3. I work as a counselor with many working-class families who are completely unaware of the many services the Desmond-Fish offers. Adolescents tell me their parents stopped taking them because they were so worried about incurring fines. When you are working two jobs and raising children, it is easy to forget to return items on time and this imposes a significant burden on some families.

    The income earned by the library from late fees is negligible. Eliminating fines brings families back to libraries, especially families who can benefit from such a valuable resource. It frees up staff time to focus on other programs and engaging with patrons. It eliminates a punitive system that punishes people who are seeking to engage with learning.

    Thank you, Desmond-Fish, for making changes that will have a real impact in the lives of families and other patrons. Garrison has a huge range of incomes, from the uber-wealthy to many middle- and low-income families, and Putnam County is among the top three counties in the state for income inequality. [via Facebook]

  4. Libraries have found that fines do little if anything to encourage responsible use of library materials — rather, people who can afford the fines don’t care if they accrue them, and people who can’t afford the fines avoid borrowing from the library. It’s important that everyone feel empowered to take advantage of their right to use their library. [via Facebook]

    Biracree is the digital services coordinator at the Desmond-Fish library.

  5. Common-sense approaches like this are welcomed and applauded in this generous community. I hope the policy will en-courage other libraries to follow. [via Facebook]

  6. Libraries are the heart and souls of our communities. I use their services many times a week. There have been times I couldn’t pay a late fee and I see a lot of patrons in the same boat. Don’t assume responsibility comes only with a deterrent.