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Mustang library to go fine-free

The Mustang Public Library will be Canadian County’s first fine-free library beginning Sept. 1.

For six months until March 1, 2022, the library will participate in a fine-free pilot program to determine if they would like to implement it long-term in the future.

“The people who most need the library are the ones who may not be able to pay for late fees,” Director Julie Slupe said. “That’s why it’s become so popular. People are trying to not keep patrons from using the library.”

The program is the same one Oklahoma City participated in, as well as many other libraries — some of which started with waiving children’s fines.

Slupe said Mustang thought about beginning with waiving fines on children’s materials, however, throughout COVID-19, they decided to not go that route, due to the city being in a money crunch situation. After recently getting the OK from City Manager Tim Rooney, Slupe took the idea of all fine-free materials to her board July 22.

The board shared concerns about not receiving materials back from patrons in a timely manner if there are no fines, she said.

Although fine fees will not be charged, lost materials are still taken into account. If people keep materials for more than a month, they are no longer considered late, rather lost.

Patrons will still be required to pay for damages, as well as being liable for lost materials.

Until Sept. 1, people must still pay 5 cents per day in late fees for a maximum of $5. Once patrons reach $5 in fines, they can no longer check-out books.

If fines are more than $50, people are turned over to a collection agency. The library does not keep fine money, rather it goes into the city’s general budget.

In fiscal year 2020, the city collected $3,756 in fines, which is $3,215 less than in 2019.

Slupe is hopeful the program will remain, as there are some benefits to the library. She said with no fines, it will save staff time at the front desk, as they’re not having to process money.

“I think it’s a benefit for all of us because there’s a more positive atmosphere,” Slupe added.

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