“No, this is not an April Fools joke!” said Kelly Harris, the director of the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton.
Though it sure sounds like such a gag, it is really true that as of April 1, the library will no longer charge fines for books, movies, tapes and other items returned past their due dates. The permanent amnesty starting on Friday comes after the library board of trustees, at a meeting earlier this month, passed a resolution eliminating all fines for overdue items.
“Library fines make up such a tiny portion of the library’s income that the board felt it was the right time to stop ‘nickel-and-dime-ing’ our community,” Ms. Harris said.
Noting that the collection of the Hampton Library belongs to its patrons, who have always shown great generosity in approving its annual budget and donating to its fundraising drives, she added, “It was time to ditch this antiquated practice.”
The library, which will still charge replacement fees for damaged and lost items, views the elimination of overdue fines as a step toward “improving the user experience,” Ms. Harris said.
At least two other East End libraries, the Westhampton Free Library and the Floyd Memorial Library in Greenport, have also scrapped their late fees.
Meanwhile, Catherine Creedon, the director of the John Jermain Memorial Library, said she would personally consider ending overdue fines “in a heartbeat,” but added that any such move would require JJML board approval.
“It would be a board decision because it brings in a certain amount of revenue that pays for a portion of our operating expenses,” she said. Ms. Creedon added that the library will be waiving overdue fines this summer as a courtesy in case patrons face any confusion over the anticipated move from its temporary headquarters on West Water Street back to its permanent home at 201 Main Street.