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People on Long Island are saying goodbye to library late fees.

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This is a growing trend where at least 55 of the 110 public libraries in Nassau and Suffolk counties have begun eliminating or limiting fees for late returns.

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Michelle Lipson, director of the Plaines Library, feels that fining library-goers is actually against the mission of the library’s open-door policy.

“We determined that returning people is more important than returning content,” she said. “It has been shown that the fines did not prevent people from returning the books. What was stopping them was the money on their cards.”

Last week all three library systems in New York City announced that all late and replacement fees would be waived. And similar policies have already caught on in other cities, including San Francisco, Philadelphia and Denver.

Kevin Verbesi, director of the Suffolk Cooperative Library System, said, “With changes in time over the past several years, changes in technology and everything changed by COVID, many libraries felt late fees were just a hindrance.”

During the pandemic, people carrying books and other items from March to July last year. When the library reopened, they eventually waived the late fee and wiped out the fine. They say that it was not about making up for the loss, but about re-establishing ties within the community.

Libraries are keeping pace with the times and catering to the community by offering Kindle and HotSpot rentals, eBooks and other digital technology, crafts for teens, and access to copy machines.

As far as the fine is concerned – no, it does not mean that you are completely exempted…

“We give them a few months — we send a notice that it’s overdue, a second and then a third until we tell them it has to be replaced,” said Maggie Rush with Plaines Public Library.

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