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South Mississippi Regional Library System Announces New Fine Free Policy

Friday, March 25, 2022 9:00 AM | Hali Black (Administrator)

The Board of Trustees of the South Mississippi Regional Library System are pleased to announce that, as of January 1, 2022, the library system will no longer charge late fines for overdue materials.


Traditionally, late fines were charged to encourage patrons to return library materials in a timely manner so that they would be available for more patrons. However, in recent years, libraries across the nation have raised the argument that fines may create a barrier to patrons accessing services due to economic reasons. 

When the Columbia-Marion County branch closed in December 2019 due to tornado damage, library staff were instructed to waive all late fines of materials currently out on loan. Then, in March 2020, when the entire library system participated in the mandatory pandemic shut-down, the rest of the library system began enforcing the same directive. Over the course of the next year and a half, as the Library fluctuated from complete closures to curb-side only, to restricted access, and finally re-opening fully, staff continued to waive fines.


At their November 9, 2021, meeting, the Board of Trustee members reviewed data on fine collection for the five years prior to the pandemic and concluded that fines did not constitute a significant portion of the library’s revenue. “Our Board members were happy to eliminate any barrier to individuals in our community receiving the full array of services the library has to offer,” states Director Ryda Worthy. “We invite anyone who may have old late fees on their account to come see us, so that we can get their account active again.” The Library will continue to charge for lost or damaged items.


The five members of the SMRL Board of Trustees are appointed by the Marion and Jefferson Davis County Board of Supervisors and serve a 5-year term. All library policies are adopted by the Board and are available to the public at each library branch location. 


Submitted by: 

Ryda Worthy 
Library Director 
South Mississippi Regional Library System 

        

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