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Posted on: December 28, 2023

Grace Balloch Memorial Library no longer charging overdue fees beginning Jan. 1st

Stack of books with reading glasses

SPEARFISH, SD - Beginning in January 2024, Grace Balloch Memorial Library in Spearfish will no longer be charging overdue fees on late items. 

Libraries across the country have been moving away from this practice in recent years, and based on their results, the Spearfish library has decided to follow suit. Library Director Amber Wilde said of the change, "Library fines may be intended to encourage prompt return of library materials, but studies have shown that they really are not that effective as a motivator and instead tend to make people nervous about coming in with their late material. They can also disproportionately affect those in the community who need the library most.

Fines will no longer be charged on late material starting January 1, and all prior fines will also be cleared. 

"We hope that this encourages some people who have been prevented from coming in, due to either inability to pay or embarrassment about the status of their account, to come back to the library," said Wilde. 

This does not mean, however, that library material does not need to be returned on time. Staff will still be sending out reminders and eventually charging the patrons for the cost of the material if it is not returned. Materials that have been billed in the past will also remain on the accounts to be paid off before those library cards can be used again. 

Library staff ask that people be mindful of the fact that other people may be waiting for the things they have checked out and return materials as soon as they can. 

"Life happens, and we all understand that, so the library staff do not want to add to anyone's difficulties by charging people every time they are a little late due to a busy schedule, illness, or just simply forgetting," said Wilde. "We believe that most people understand that library use requires sharing and consideration, and they do not need to have a financial incentive to help us make sure everyone has access to the collection."

In addition to the change in fines policy, staff will also be adding automatic renewals to help make library checkouts even less of a hassle. As long as no one is waiting for an item, it will automatically renew up to two times so that the patron does not need to take time out of their busy schedule to log in or make a phone call and deal with their renewals.

For more information about Grace Balloch Memorial Library, visit its website here.

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