Sometimes we all need a fresh start, and Portage County District Library (PCDL) would like to help you out. PCDL announces that, beginning Monday, January 2, 2018, no fines will be charged on overdue materials during the first three months of the year. PCDL’s Fresh Start Amnesty event will continue through the end of March. Fines will be forgiven on late materials during the amnesty period, even if the items are long overdue.

All PCDL materials are checked out for a two-week loan period. During the fine-free period, due dates still apply and library cards are blocked when materials are a month overdue. The costs for lost or damaged items will still be applied. When charges on a borrower’s card total $50 or more, the account is assessed a $10 fee and sent to a collection agency. While the amnesty period is in effect, anyone who returns long overdue items can have the fines waived, but will still owe the $10 collection agency fee.

“Sometimes people accumulate fines and just stop coming to the library because they have overdues. We do want our materials back so others can use them, but, more importantly, we want our borrowers back, especially families with children,” said Cecilia Swanson, PCDL director.

“We hope that by offering this fine-free period, we will get more people using our library services. When a user’s card is blocked, that person can’t borrow anything or use our great digital collections. The Fresh Start Amnesty is an opportunity to remove that block and get people connected to the library again.”

For most libraries, like PCDL, overdue fines are rarely a significant source of revenue for the library, less than 1% in many cases. There has been a growing trend in public libraries to do away with fines for overdue library materials. The American Library Association (ALA) vowed to promote the elimination of fees and fines in a policy brief issued in 2012 because fines can be a barrier to library access, with the greatest impact on those who most need the library. Just last year, the Columbus Metropolitan Library eliminated overdue fines, while other Ohio systems have been fine-free for years.

Portage County District Library provides library services within Portage County (except in the Kent and Ravenna school district areas). Library service outlets include Aurora Memorial, Garrettsville, Pierce Streetsboro, Randolph, and Windham. PCDL’s Outreach Services provides library service to those unable to visit branch libraries as well as local nursing homes, Library Express, and The Library Box @NEW Center in Rootstown. In addition, PCDL operates a Computer Lab inside the Deerfield Township Hall.
For more information about library programs and services, visit PCDL online at www.portagelibrary.org.

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