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Late library book, no problem in Phelps

Late library book? No problem, and as of the last few weeks, no fines either at the Phelps Library.

As of Feb. 18, anyone who checks out and returns print materials will no longer be charged overdue fines on books and magazines.

The idea is to promote reading while also ensuring ways for the community to have free access to books, according to library Executive Director Leah Hamilton.

Here’s why library officials believe the program will work. Last year, the Kids Read Free pilot program — which eliminated overdue fines for print materials checked out by patrons under the age of 18 — was implemented.

In the end, the on-time return rate was found to have actually increased with the removal of the fines. That’s what prompted the Phelps Library Board of Trustees to approve the fine-free policy last month.

“It is pretty exciting,” said Mary Ellen Darling, who is vice president of the board.

While it’s too soon to judge the impact on circulation numbers, Hamilton said the new policy seems to be embraced by patrons.

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