If your family checks out children’s and young adult books at Florence-Lauderdale Public Library, your life is about to get a little easier. Beginning September 5, the library will no longer charge overdue fines on any materials in the children’s and young adult departments.
It’s a change that library staff members believe will remove one more barrier to reading and learning. Youth Services Librarian Jessica Fenn Hill says that she never wants “the threat of a fine to be the reason parents choose to not allow their children to check out books.”
“My main goal in the Youth Services Department is to foster a love of reading in children, and that was made tougher when fines became an issue for families,” said Hill. “There are multiple reasons why a family may not be able to return materials on time: schedules change, vehicles break down, or family members get sick. We don’t want these everyday occurrences to keep children from accessing books.” With those fines lifted, she expects to see more families checking out greater numbers of books for their children.
Because of the costs of buying new books, card-holders who fail to return children’s and young adult items will still be charged for the replacement costs. However, no late fees will be added, and there will be no fines at all as long as the items are returned to the library
Teen Program Coordinator Jaimee Sockwell Hannah is also optimistic about the policy change. “Teens often have more choices and independence when checking out books, but they still don’t have control over exactly when they can visit the library to return their books,” said Hannah. “We want as many young people as possible reading and learning, so we’re trying to remove any obstacles that might be in the way of them having full access to their public library.”
When the new policy goes into effect on September 5, it will apply to all items with call numbers that start with or include E, J, JF, JV, YF, or Y. These collections include over 24,000 books, audiobooks, and DVDs, all of which will now be fine-free.
Hill is excited about what the change will mean for families in the Shoals. “We know that access to books is important to early literacy,” Hill said. “Access to books means developing basic reading skills, learning vocabulary, and—most importantly to me—bonding over the act of reading. That access and bonding leads to a lifetime of learning.”