ELLSWORTH – The Ellsworth Public library is making a change this fall.
The library will no longer charge fines on overdue children’s material. This includes books and DVDs as well as books from the young adult section.
“This is part of a nationwide trend. A lot of libraries are taking a second look at library fines,” said Library Director Amy Wisehart.
Library trustees approved the change last month.
The library serves several communities in Hancock County, and Wisehart said she hopes waiving the fines will increase usage among families.
“This is a way to expand our access for children, regardless of means of income,” Wisehart said.
She said the fines could discourage low-income families from taking out books and other materials.
Ava Sprague, who uses the library quite frequently with her family, seemed to agree.
“If they’re coming here to rent books ’cause they don’t even have book ’cause they’re really poor, then it would be a good idea for them not if they’re late not for them to not pay money,” she said.
But her mom thinks it is a missed opportunity.
“Even if the adults would be the ones paying the fine, it could be a teachable moment and the kids could be a learning moment,” said Amanda Sprague.
The fees contribute about $3,000 to the library budget. To make up for the loss of the funds, there’s a donation dinosaur set up at the circulation desk.
“It’s less than half of 1 percent of our overall budget,” said Wisehart.
Ellsworth joins a few other libraries in Maine that made the same decision. The waiver goes into effect on Sept. 1.