FAIR LAWN, NJ - The Maurice M. Pine Free Public Library of Fair Lawn is giving their patrons a gift for 2020 and beyond as the Board of Trustees, on the recommendation of Library Director Adele Puccio, voted unanimously at their December 18 meeting to eliminate overdue fines in an effort to address social inequity.

Beginning Jan. 2, 2020, materials owned by the Library will no longer have overdue fines. Patrons who have an overdue fine for an item owned by the library on their account prior to Jan. 1 will not owe a fine on those materials if they return the items to the library. 

“Overdue fines are one example of an archaic practice that unfairly penalizes children and seniors and has a greater economic impact on lower-income families. We want everyone to feel welcome here.” Library Director Adele Puccio said. 

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But doing away with overdue fines does not mean patrons are free from responsibility for items checked out of the library. 

Fees will continue to be applied for lost or damaged materials. After 90 days past the final due date, materials that are not returned will be considered lost, and patrons will be billed the replacement cost as well as a processing fee. Library privileges for people with lost or damaged materials will be revoked until all bills have been cleared. People with overdue items will be prevented from taking anything else out until those items are back. 

In addition, materials that are obtained from other libraries in BCCLS or via Interlibrary Loan will still be subject to fines. 

The American Library Association is recommending that libraries nationwide dismantle practices of collecting monetary fines, arguing they create a barrier to access of library materials and services, and ultimately do not serve the core mission of the modern library. 

Eliminating fines also increases library card adoption and library usage, the ALA said in its recent “Resolution on Monetary Library Fines as a Form of Social Inequity.” 

In making its decision, the library board was guided by American Library Association’s policy statement, specifically the directive to eliminate barriers to service. 

“The Maurice M. Pine Free Public Library is committed to providing equal access to information, ideas and resources,” said board member David Tratner. “What we want to do is make sure that this library is a fully accessible library.” 

The Maurice M. Pine Free Public Library will continue to send out reminders to patrons about returning materials they have checked out. Reminders will be sent via email and text message three days before an item is due. Certain items, like rental movies, wireless hot spots and museum passes will still be subject to fines.