Guntersville Library goes ‘fine free’ permanently

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GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. — Readers in Guntersville can rest easy: the Guntersville Public Library is now permanently “fine free.”

According to a Facebook post, the library says it is doing away with late fees because it can “create a financial barrier for some patrons, when their only ‘crime’ was keeping their materials a little too long.”

Much like other libraries across the nation, the Guntersville Public Library eliminated late fees last March during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Late fines are primarily a deterrent to those with limited income,” the post continued. “If you have the money to pay the fines, you are less likely to care if they are overdue. We trust our Patrons to be responsible and thoughtful of others, regardless of any punishment.”

The post stated that due to funding from the City of Guntersville, Friends of the Library, and State of Alabama, overdue fines were “almost negligible.”

The library says that despite the absence of late fees, patrons can’t just simply keep materials and will still need to renew what you’ve checked out.

“Going fine free doesn’t mean we won’t still charge for lost or damaged materials,” the post stated. “As always, if you don’t return a book after a period of time, we mark that book lost and the cost of the book goes on your library account. You can’t check out more materials until it’s returned or paid for.”

The library says it is working to eliminate old fines and the only fines from now on that will remain on anyone’s account will be for lost or damaged items.

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