The Board of the Cranbrook Public Library announced Monday that overdue fines are now history, to ensure “the Library can better live up to its commitment to provide free and equitable access to information, independent learning, and the joys of reading for everyone.” (Barry Coulter photo)

The Board of the Cranbrook Public Library announced Monday that overdue fines are now history, to ensure “the Library can better live up to its commitment to provide free and equitable access to information, independent learning, and the joys of reading for everyone.” (Barry Coulter photo)

Overdue fines at Cranbrook Library are gone forever

Overdue fines at the Cranbrook Public Library are now a thing of the past, as of Monday, Feb. 14 — a special Valentine’s Day present for the City and people of Cranbrook.

The Board of the Cranbrook Public Library announced Monday that overdue fines are now history, to ensure “the Library can better live up to its commitment to provide free and equitable access to information, independent learning, and the joys of reading for everyone.”

“The exciting part of going fine free is releasing people from the financial fear of using a library,” says David Clark, Library Board Chair, “and the practical part is that it actually benefits every patron as significantly more materials are returned. In a time when our collections budget is strained, more returns means a lessening of that strain.

“Ironically, the original purpose of fines was to encourage returns not add to library revenues. I hope all our patrons can see what a great benefit this is to them.”

“Eliminating fines means more people in our community have greater access to library materials and services,” said Chief Librarian Ursula Brigl. “Other libraries have seen a growth in library memberships as well as an increase in returned material. While fines for overdue items may seem trivial, they create a major barrier for some; essentially cancelling library services to people who need it the most.”

“The tears have been real,” said Mike Selby, the Library’s Programming and Community Development librarian. “Countless ones from countless children who—because of fines on their or their parent’s library card—have been unable to check out any books. Saying goodbye to fines is also saying goodbye to these painful situations; and saying hello to far more positive library experiences.”

Like libraries everywhere, the Cranbrook Public has charged fines on overdue items since it first opened its doors—97 years ago. It was a way to encourage returns, protect a limited resource, as well as teach young people responsibility. “The library’s role is to encourage lifelong learning, exploration, and innovation,” Selby added, “not to teach civic responsibility to any age group.”

Items will still have due dates, and people will be charged for lost or damaged books.