HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Huntsville-Madison County Public Library (HMCPL) announced on Monday that starting immediately they will be eliminating late fees.

The Board of Directors for the library voted unanimously on this issue earlier in the month. This is in part due to the Alabama Literacy Act, which has a mission of improving reading and literacy skills in public schools.

HMCPL will be the first larger library system in the state to go fine-free. The decision came after research was gathered within the HMCPL system and from other libraries that have eliminated fines.

“We are proud to join the hundreds of libraries nationwide who are ensuring open access to library materials by going fine-free,” said Cindy Hewitt, Executive Director of HMCPL. “It is important that the children in our community are able to access books without the threat of overdue fines so they have an opportunity to increase their literacy levels.”

As summer reading is right around the corner, the library hopes to see an influx of students using the resources available to them through HMCPL.

“The public library is an essential community asset tasked with meeting the information needs of all persons in the community,” said Hewitt. “By becoming a fine-free library, HMCPL will welcome back customers, gain new customers, as well as realign staff time towards meeting this mission moving forward.”

Less than 1 percent of HMCPL’s income comes from late fees and fines, so the elimination will not affect the library’s revenue. However, library users will still receive overdue notices and be charged for lost items.

If you have any questions or want to know more about HMCPL’s decision, you can check out their website.