Forbes Library ends late fees for young readers

  • Forbes Library building in Northampton/ STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

For the Gazette
Published: 6/28/2019 5:13:19 PM

NORTHAMPTON – Starting July 1, Forbes Library will no longer charge late fees for patrons age 17 and under and will eliminate their existing late fees.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Kathleen Gorky, a middle school teacher in Greenfield. “Why should kids go into debt for reading?”

Lisa Downing, the director of Forbes Library, said that the library wanted to emphasize returning library materials rather than punishing young readers.

“Using the library should not be a source of stress for families,” Downing said in a press release. “We recognize that fines can serve as a barrier preventing some families, especially those who do not have disposable income to pay fines, from visiting the library.”

Forbes’ decision comes after the American Library Association published a resolution in January stating that “monetary fines present an economic barrier to access of library materials and services,” and that “there is mounting evidence that indicates eliminating fines increases library card adoption and library usage.”

Sarah Johnson, head of the children’s and young adult department, said eliminating fees would be good for young readers.

“Children and teens are often not in control of whether or not they accrue late fines…when we block a child’s card, we’re withholding library materials at the precise time that they can have the biggest positive impact in their lives,” Johnson said in a press release.

Duken Brown, a father of three, saw some drawbacks to the decision.

“I could see where it would be helpful, but responsibility wise, it’s probably not the best idea,” Brown said. “Late fees could help teach the younger generation some responsibility. But I do see both sides.”

Young patrons at Forbes, however, were in favor of eliminating fees. 

“I think that it’s really cool,” said Marzden Parzybok, age 10, who was using a computer at Forbes Friday afternoon. “Some people might not get it back in time, but they’ll still get it back a little bit later and would’ve been able to read everything they wanted.”

Two other children at the library said they would check out more books. 

Kat Janeczek, who has been a children’s and young adult librarian at Forbes since 2015, praised the decision.

“We’re really excited about this,” Janeczek said. “It’s something the children’s department has been wanting to do for a long time.”




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