NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – As of July 1, 2021, New Hanover County Public Library will not charge overdue fines for children’s materials checked out from the library. In addition, existing overdue fines on children’s materials will be forgiven and more will not accrue. This change was adopted by the Board of Commissioners as part of the Fiscal Year 2021-22 budget, and will increase access to library resources and address equity issues.
“Eliminating overdue fees is steadily becoming more common in public libraries because research shows that overdue fines disproportionately impact the most vulnerable library users, and that families unable to pay down fines are likely to discontinue using library services,” said Library Director Paige Owens. “Excessive overdue fines lead to blocked cards and can result in caregivers ending children’s access to the library. Children who need the library most then lose access to our services and materials, and miss the opportunity to establish a relationship with the library. So this change is an important step to further the county’s strategic plan and create equitable access and promote early learning in our public libraries.”
The library has already implemented other policies to reduce the impact of overdue fines on borrowers, including automatic renewals (as long as the item has not been reserved), reminders via email and text, extended loan periods on Educator cards, and no overdue fines on CLASS Project student digital cards.
Under this new policy, borrowers will continue to receive overdue notices reminding them to return late materials, but no fines will be charged for children’s items returned late. However, library users will still be required to pay to replace lost or damaged items.
Beginning Monday, August 2, all New Hanover County Public Library locations will begin new operating hours:
“We will be extending our hours and opening on Sunday afternoons, which is something we haven’t been able to do since the start of the pandemic,” said Owens. “We know many of our patrons are excited and ready for these new hours, and we are too.”
The library will continue to accept book donations by appointment only, based on space limitations.
For more information about New Hanover County Public Library, visit Library.NHCgov.com.