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.