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Libraries offer a fresh start

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On Wednesday, Feb. 28, Delta County Libraries will offer its patrons a fresh start with a one-time fine forgiveness day. The event marks the end of Library Lovers Month, a time when library patrons show their love and support for the libraries.

"February 2018 is the second annual Love Your Libraries campaign in Delta County," says Lea Hart, district director of Delta County Libraries. "With the addition of fine forgiveness day, we want to encourage patrons to locate any lost items associated with their library cards. This year only, on Feb. 28, the libraries will forgive all fines on items that have been returned in good condition.

"In the spirit of Library Lovers Month, fine forgiveness provides an opportunity to bring libraries, library patrons and the community together in a mutual show of affection," says Hart. "The libraries gain back valuable resources that have been out of circulation, putting them back in the hands of other library patrons, without the cost of replacing the items."

"In addition, it provides a fresh start for patrons who may have stopped using the libraries due to an inability to pay the fines. This is especially true for many young students in Delta County who could benefit greatly from accessing library resources."

"After looking into statistics on Delta County students with library cards, we found that an alarming number of students were blocked due to overdue fines and fees," explains Leah Morris, collections and systems administrator for Delta County Libraries. "Based on our numbers, roughly 15 percent of students are currently unable to use their library cards. We would like to see these young people come back to the libraries."

For that very reason, in December 2017, Delta County Libraries introduced a student e-card option for students in Delta County. The student e-card came as a direct result of coordinating with the school district to remove barriers for students obtaining library cards and the associated resources. With an e-card, students can access the online library for things like e-books, online classes, and research databases, without the possibility of accruing fines.

While fine forgiveness will offer many people, young and old, a fresh start, it does not overshadow a patron's responsibility for checked out items and any associated fines. "We will not clear fees for items that have not been returned. We are asking our patrons to make the effort to locate and return items to the library, or pay to replace those items," explains Hart. And, starting March 1 fines for overdue items will begin accruing again per current library policies.

"In many ways, it is also a fresh start for the library district," says Hart. "Old fines that have long gone unpaid will be cleared from our system and we have a greater opportunity to work with patrons on settling their accounts moving forward."

"Also, since it is Library Lovers Month, there is an opportunity for patrons to 'pay it forward' by deciding to pay their fines, or someone else's, in the form of a donation," Hart states. "Every single dollar counts in this library district. If we can bring more people, books, and goodwill into the district, we will call this event a success. All of these things translate to happier patrons, busier libraries, and future dollars."

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