FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – As of Aug. 17, Cumberland County Public Libraries no longer charge late fees for overdue items like books and DVDs. The library will also not charge for long overdue or lost fees on these items.
The Board of Commissioners approved dismissing charges for long overdue, lost or damaged books and audiovisual materials at their regular meeting Aug.16. The goal is to increase access to library services for previously blocked customers, particularly young borrowers. The change does not include laptops, hotspots or Playaway Launchpads.
The library system charged $.20 per day per item with a maximum of $5 per item charged. Borrowers were blocked from checking out materials if they had $10 in late fees. Approximately one-third of library card accounts are inactive, with fees preventing those cardholders from using library resources.
Public Library Director Faith Phillips requested the change to the commissioners at the board’s Aug. 10 agenda session. Phillips told the board that library systems that have gone late-fee free have experienced a huge return of customers, broken down barriers to access, increased the community members they serve, experienced a huge amount of good will within the community, ensured their practices meet industry standards and been fiscally responsible.
“We want everyone in our community to be able to access our library resources and materials. I am so grateful to the Board of County Commissioners and county leadership for recognizing the need to remove this barrier to access,” said Phillips. “I invite everyone to the library and to return their long overdue items.”
Phillips estimated that late fees generate about $33,600 a year in revenue for the library system and that the County could recoup that funding by no longer paying a collection agency to recover lost materials and by seeking grant opportunities.
Cumberland County joins 18 other North Carolina library systems in dropping late fees for books and resources not returned by the prescribed deadline. These include Alamance, Buncombe, Cabarrus, Carteret, Catawba, Charlotte/Mecklenburg County, Durham, Gaston, Guildford County/Greensboro, Henderson, Iredell, Madison, Wake, Robeson, Chapel Hill, Farmville, Gibsonville, Mooresville. Additionally, there are 23 other library systems covering 31 counties which are partially fine free.
September is National Library Card Sign Up Month and Cumberland County Public Library is inviting all residents to come and join the library. This card will give you access to technology, resources and services to help encourage expression, enlightenment, and exploration.
For more information about signing up for your library card, returning long overdue items, or in-person and virtual programs at the library, please visit the library’s website at cumberlandcountync.gov/library and follow them on social media.
Please visit the Cumberland County YouTube page at youtube.com/user/CumberlandCountyNC to view the meetings mentioned in this press release.