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The Rowan County Public Library has eliminated overdue fines.

The policy applies to all materials at the library but does not apply to lost or damaged items.

The focus of doing away with fines is to remove barriers to access materials in the library, according to Marilyn Freidhof, patron accounts manager.

Overdue notices are still being sent as a reminder.

The change was proposed to the library board by Executive Director Tim Gampp. The five-member board approved the change on Dec. 19.

It became effective Feb. 1, but was not publicly announced until last week.

Members of the library board include Catherine Smith, Sarah Dailey, Gabe Brown, Tim Simpson and Peg Jones.

Most patrons turn in their items on time, Freidhof said. Overdue fines account for less than 1% of the library’s budget.

So the most important reason for no fines is to eliminate the number of patrons who owe money and don’t come back, Gampp said.

Most patrons owe between $5 and $10 but won’t return to the library because of embarrassment.

Freidhof said the biggest complaint about the fine elimination is that it discourages responsibility.

“We are not here to teach responsibility but remove barriers,” she said.

No overdue fines is becoming a nationwide trend, according to Freidhof.

So are trips to the library. Freidhof cited a Gallup poll that found in the U.S., library visits outpaced trips to the movies in 2019. Women also visit libraries nearly twice as frequently as men, according to the poll.

Upcoming events at the library in March include Dr. Seuss Night and a production “The Princess and the Pea” by the Lexington Children’s Theatre.

Call 784-7137 for information or visit https://www.rowancountylibrary.org.

Reach Stephanie at sockerman@themoreheadnews.com or by phone at (606) 784-4116.

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