New policy: City libraries eliminate overdue fines on all materials for young learners

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Manchester Public Library offers fine forgiveness for overdue children’s books. FILE PHOTO

MANCHESTER, NH – Manchester City Library Staff and Trustees along with Mayor Joyce Craig, announced Monday that all Manchester public libraries will eliminate overdue fines on children’s and young adult collections going forward, starting Oct. 1.

“With this move, we can truly say any child in our community can afford to check out a book at our libraries,” said Craig. “The libraries in Manchester are much more than a collection of books – they’re pivotal centers of our community. No child should be unable to engage in learning because of their family’s income level.”

The decision to eliminate overdue fines is part of a growing national trend in library policies to promote reading. Manchester library staff also noticed there was an issue, once they held discussions with families who said they hadn’t been to a library in years due to their inability to pay late fees.

“We’ve recently begun working closer with the Manchester School District, and we realized we needed books to be as accessible as they can to our children and students,” said Denise van Zanten, Library Director. “Eliminating fines on materials for our young learners will continue to promote early literacy and drive our efforts forward.”

“By eliminating fines on children’s and young adult materials, we are taking down a barrier and opening a door to a critical resource for children and teens where they can continue to learn and grow,” according Karyn Isleb, Head of Youth Services.

The Manchester city library network currently has more than 10,000 juvenile accounts. Of those, more than 3,200 had fines of $10 or more that made them ineligible to check materials out, said Library Director Denise vanZanten.

“This change does not impact any current accounts, as we will review those on a case-by-case basis as requested by the borrower, parent or guardian,” vanZanten said.

In fiscal year 2018 the library collected fine revenues amounting to $28,000, of which approximately $8,000 were from children’s and young adult materials.

Library users will still be asked to pay for lost or damaged children and young adult items. Fines for overdue books prior to Oct. 1 are still in effect.

For more information about the Manchester City Library and its many programs and activities please contact the Library at (603) 624-6550 or visit www.manchesterlibrary.org.