GREENSBORO — In a move to help level community inequity, the Greensboro Public Library is eliminating overdue fines.
The city of Greensboro announced that the library’s board of trustees approved the change in policy to take effect Saturday.
The new policy includes forgiveness of outstanding fines.
Library Director Brigitte Blanton said that libraries around the country have for years debated the merits of late fines for materials and have determined that they discourage library use for people who may benefit the most.
Although the end of fines is convenient for people who have avoided returning to libraries during the coronavirus pandemic, the crisis is not the reason why fines were suspended.
In recent months, City Manager David Parrish has urged all departments to look at any policies or procedures that promote social and racial inequities and the Public Library determined that fines as a whole could create a barrier for people.
“It’s punitive and it does not increase the materials that are coming back,” Blanton said.
Fines are lucrative, but the city will bear the cost if it means attracting more people to the library’s materials and programs.
In fiscal year 2018-2019, Blanton said, the library collected $127,000 in fines.
The library won’t drop its requirement that people return their books and materials, no matter how long they’ve been out.
And if a person loses or damages an item, the library will still charge for that loss. Prices range from $30 for an adult hardback to as little as $10 for a children’s paperback.
Rebinding damaged books costs $7 per item.
All eight libraries are now open on a modified “grab and go” schedule, Blanton said.
A limited number of people are being allowed into libraries to browse for up to 30 minutes before checking out materials.
Branches are open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more information on Library events and resources, visit www.greensborolibrary.org.