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Fort Worth Public Library Goes Fine-Free


Overdue book fees are history at the Fort Worth Public Library. A new policy follows similar measures by public library systems across the country.

About 18,000 library cardholders with blocked accounts have had their slates wiped clean, but Fort Worth Public Library Director Manya Shorr says going fine-free will benefit many more.

"The fear of fines keeps people from using the library, so at the end of the day, this is about reducing barriers to access for our entire community and welcoming everyone back into the library," Shorr said.

Fort Worth joins a wave of cities that have realized overdue fines aren't really the best way to get books back on the shelves.

"The Salt Lake Public Library in Utah — they eliminated overdue fines a few years ago," Shorr said. "And after the first year, what they found was that more people were using the library and more people were returning items because they took away that guilt and shame that's associated with bringing items back."

Dallas and Plano have both done away with fines, joining cities nationwide like Denver, Chicago and San Francisco.

The Fort Worth library will still keep track of overdue books, and they'll consider them lost after 90 days.

Cardholders will have to pay a fee for lost items, and if adults rack up $50 or more in fees, they'll have to settle their account before they can check out books again.

Miguel Perez is an assistant producer at KERA. He produces local content for Morning Edition and KERA News. He also produces The Friday Conversation, a weekly interview series with North Texas newsmakers.