Belmont Public Library Is Finished With Late Fines, Joining Nationwide Practice

Photo: Late fees at the Belmont Public Library are a thing of the past starting July 1. (Belmont Public Library)

The days of running to Concord Avenue to return a book or movie before they turn, like Cinderella, from a borrowed work into a fine are over. Effective today, Thursday, July 1, the Belmont Public Library has joined a nationwide practice of ending charging late fees on print materials, music, movies and video games.

The news in a press release from Library Director Peter Struzzierok said studies have shown for several years that “late fines on library materials create a barrier to service, do not actually bring materials back any faster, and overall are a cost negative effort, meaning that we spend more money to collect fines than the amount of the fines being collected.” He noted that late fees also disproportionately affects patrons living on a fixed income.

The library will continue to assess small fines on Commonwealth Catalog items, Museum Passes, and Library of Things items. And any items that are lost or damaged will still require replacement costs to be assessed. In addition, patrons should be aware that the 40 other libraries within the Middlesex Library Network may continue to have late fees.

While the library located at 336 Concord Ave. will no longer collect fines on most items, it will still issue due dates on the hundreds of thousands of items circulated annually.

“When you return your items on time, you are paying a great respect forward to all of our other library users. When you need an extra day or two to get an item back, we are proud to report that you will not be fined,” said Struzzierok, who said the library would “be thrilled to accept food donations” in lieu of the monetary fee, noting the library has become the largest contributor in town to the Belmont Food Pantry.

“Ending this old way of doing things will make people happier, be a fairer way of serving the community, bring new users in and former users back … and will save the town and the library money. For these reasons it’s made good sense to us to refine our process and eliminate this practice,” he said.

Finalist for Belmont Top Librarian Spot Had Short Stay in Arlington

Photo: Peter Struzziero, the finalist to become director of the Belmont Public Library director. (LinkedIn)

He was an on-line movie reviewer, a performer at Disney World, portrayed Obi-Wan Kenobi for a workshop he created to inspire other librarians to promoting reading and was Mr. August 2013 in the Tattooed Youth Librarians of Massachusetts calendar.

And now Peter Struzziero can add (pending) director of the Belmont’s Public Library as the Board of Library Trustees named the 31-year-old its finalist to lead the town’s library services, in a press release dated Monday, March 23. He will replace Maureen Connors, who retired after two decades on the job in October 2014.

Struzziero’s resume also indicates an extremely short tenure as Arlington’s library director, serving less than two months on the job before agreeing with town officials that he should leave his position on Feb. 18.

Media reports from last month suggested Arlington Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine told Struzziero he should pursue other opportunities. There is no other public information or comment suggesting what prompted Arlington town officials to take their action.

“Yes, Mr. Struzziero has left the employment of the Town of Arlington,” Chapdelaine told the Belmontonian on Tuesday.

When asked about Struzziero’s quick departure from the Arlington top spot, Belmont Trustee Elaine Alligood told the Belmontonian, “Great question – come and ask it,” referring to the public “meet and greet” with Struzziero on Thursday, March 26, at 6:30pm in the library’s Assembly Room, led by Alligood.

Struzziero’s sudden move out of Arlington apparently did not hurt his chances taking over in Belmont, according to Alligood.

“The trustees have interviewed him twice in both recruitments and are fully vetting his credentials, references and experience,” Alligood told the Belmontonian.

Alligood’s response indicates that Struzziero was considered with a slew of applicants in the first attempt by the trustees to find a director. That initial effort was ended in November 2014 without anyone being named at the time. 

Not that Struzziero’s quick move to Belmont would be without precedence; current Belmont High School Principal Dr. Dan Richards returned to Belmont after a year as Melrose High’s principal when the top job opened up at the high school where he was a long-time assistant principal.

Struzziero previously worked as the director of the Arlington Public Library, and the Winthrop Public Library. Struzziero also served as the Teen Librarian for Scituate Public Library. Prior to Scituate, Struzziero was the Nevins Memorial Library Young Adult and Readers’ Services Librarian in Methuen.

Struzziero is a graduate of the New England Library Leadership Symposium NELLS, a six state sponsored training program, and Simmons College.

For further information, please call the Belmont Public Library 617-489-2000.