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Extended loan fees permanently eliminated at Baltimore County Public Library

Posted at 8:35 AM, Jul 01, 2021

TOWSON, Md. — As of July 1, extended loan fees at the Baltimore County Public Library have been permanently discontinued and outstanding balances on cardholders’ accounts have also been removed.

Customers who may not have visited the library recently due to financial obligations or fear of accruing late fines, are encouraged to visit their local branch and start over with a clean slate.

With this new policy, cardholders will not face financial assessments for returning items late. They will, however, still be required to return overdue books in order to check out additional materials.

While cardholders will no longer incur fines for late returns, they will still be responsible for replacement costs if an item is lost, damaged or not returned or a processing fee for not picking up items placed on hold.

“This is a huge milestone for Baltimore County Public Library, and we are thrilled to join a cadre of other prestigious library systems around the country that have embraced a fine-free model,” said Library Director Sonia Alcántara-Antoine. “Library fines create barriers to access and hurt the people who need its resources and services the most. Eliminating unnecessary fees levels the playing field for all in the community and it is exciting to be part of this structural change.”

The “fine-free” model, encouraged by the American Library Association (ALA), has become standard practice for many library systems both large and small throughout the country. The ALA’s Resolution on Monetary Library Fines as a Form of Social Inequity states that “monetary library fines create a barrier to the provision of library and information services.” The resolution also asserts that “there is mounting evidence that indicates eliminating fines increases library card adoption and library usage.”

The new policy, which was supported by County Executive Johnny Olszewski, was made possible with county funding in FY2022 to offset the cost.

“Going fine free will help eradicate inequities and further ensure everyone feels welcome at their local library,” said County Executive John Olszewski.

Today also marks the beginning of Phase 4 of the library's reopening plan. My Librarian appointments [] and in-branch reference transactions, study rooms, general open seating, in-branch gaming, teen spaces, periodical and quiet rooms, permits and licenses and mobile library services is now available.

Virtual and limited outdoor programs continue, and the Woodlawn and Rosedale Storyville locations are due to open in mid-to-late July.