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Richland Library will no longer charge late fees for overdue books. Here’s why

Richland County Library will no longer be charging fines for overdue books, DVDs, and other material, the library announced Wednesday.

What’s more, anyone who owes fees to the library will not have to pay them, according to the library’s announcement on Twitter.

“It’s almost a cliche that libraries will have late fees,” Richland Library Chief Program and Innovation Officer Tony Tallent said. “The reality of that is that it’s a barrier for everyone in the community.”

The change will affect 70,000 library users who owe an overdue fine and will allow 23,000 library users whose accounts were blocked to rent books, CDs, DVDs and other material, according to a news release.

If the library were to collect on all the fines it is owed — something Tallent said is not likely — it would add up to roughly $100,000, which is about a half of a percent of the library’s annual budget, Tallent said.

“There’s actually very little evidence that overdue fines have any effect on the timely return of library materials,” the library tweeted.

Under the old system, library users would be banned from renting books after they accrued $10 in fees, Tallent said.

“Many customers, when they reach that max fine, we never see them again,” Tallent said.

The library eliminated fees for overdue children’s books, DVDs, etc. in 2015, Tallent said.

However, those who lose library materials will still have to pay a replacement fee, the library said on Twitter.

“In the process of going fine-free, we’re not going responsibility-free,” Tallent said.

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