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Library may give amnesty on fines

Sun Advocate reporter

With a renewed focus on becoming more user friendly, the Price City Library is working on a plan that could see people with library fines have their accounts reduced or completely erased by just coming back and using the facility.

Librarian Norma Procarione and members of the Library Board have discussed the proposal with the Price City Council over the past few months with both sides expressing an interest in implementing the idea. Procarione said the Library Board had been discussing in their meetings of what could be done to help increase the attendance at the library.

"We think of this (eliminating fines) as a good-will offering to get people back to the library," Procarione told the council on June 26.

Preliminary results have showed that the library has increased their attendance by five percent, which was a goal set forth by the library board.

Many of those who have fines on their library accounts typically do not have a large fine amount. Most of the accounts with fines average less than a dollar, Procarione said, with some accounts having as much as $3 to $4 on them.

When looking over library records since 2000, Procarione told the council that the library currently has about $8,000 in outstanding fines. While there are still plenty of accounts with fines attached to them, Procarione said that most of the books connected to those accounts have been returned to the library.

Price City Mayor Joe Piccolo said if program of eliminating fines was put into place, the library should review the write-offs every two years to develop a better understanding of how things are running.

The library has already put into place Free Fine Fridays, which allows for those with fines to come in and use the facility while having $2 knocked off their accounts.

"It's a way to help start off with a clean slate," said Procarione, who has been with the library for 36 years.

While the idea of reducing fines to get people to come back has been supported by the council, council member Kathy Hanna-Smith suggested that the library board focus not just on dropping fines, but pointing out the many programs and activities that take place at the library.

Procarione noted that the library has expanded many of the offerings including a larger DVD collection, eBooks, eAudiobooks, new laptops and creating a more open atmosphere for people to utilize. The library also offers summer reading programs, toddler time, the PAWS Program with children reading to dogs and more.

While there is still much more work to be done, Procarione said things are looking up for the library with the increased attendance and the proposal to eliminate fines for patrons. Procarione said there is no timetable set for forgiving fines, but she is hopeful that something can be in place by September, if not earlier.

"We're just trying to be as active as possible and let everyone know of what's going on at the library," she said.

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