Freedom from Fines & Revisions to Hours

Updated 7/2/21

Dear Library Patrons,

I’m very proud to share the news that the Board of Library Trustees has decided that now is the time for the Belmont Public Library to end the practice of charging late fines on print materials, music, movies, and video games. This is not a trend, but a change in the way public libraries coast to coast are starting to serve the members of the public. Studies have shown us 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. It’s also traditionally been a practice that disproportionately affects citizens living on a fixed income.

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. Effective July 1st, the library will no longer collect these fines. We are proud to share this news. It is also  important to realize that while we will no longer collect fines on most items, we do still have due dates. We circulate hundreds of thousands of items annually, and 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.

We will also be eliminating any old late fines on materials. Any items that are lost or damaged will still require replacement costs to be assessed; this decision is specifically focused on late charges. For two years, we’ve collected food donations for the Belmont Food Pantry as an alternative to money for late items. That practice will continue. If you need to be late with items, while we won’t have any monetary fines, we’d be thrilled to accept food donations from you for our weekly delivery to the food pantry. We’ve become the Pantry’s largest contributor in town, and it’s because of you, so please keep those donations coming.

In review: we will no longer charge late fines on print materials, music, movies, or video games. We will continue to assess small fines on Commonwealth Catalog items, Museum Passes, and Library of Things items. Late fine rules vary by the library where you checked out your items, so if you are using another library, make sure to check out any rules regarding fines.

As the summer begins, we are so proud to make this change. We can’t wait to see you all at the Library, whether you are a familiar face, a new resident, or an old friend who’s ready to return. 

Our new hours are:
Monday-Wednesday: 9am-7pm
Thursday: 11am-7pm
Friday: 9am-5pm
Saturday: 9am-1pm (July & August)

Kindest Wishes,
Peter Struzziero
Library Director