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Baltimore library ends fines for overdue books
Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library became the first major urban library system on the East Coast to stop assessing overdue fines on Monday.
The library announced it has already cleared nearly $186,000 in penalties for 26,000 borrowers and plans to welcome back 13,000 people previously blocked by its system, according to The Washington Post.
"People always think: 'That's such a radical idea. How can the library exist if you don't charge fines?' " Heidi Daniel, president of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, told the publication. "Once we start talking it through . . . people get it pretty quickly. It makes a lot of sense."
Daniels said that the library's recent move to eliminate fines makes it the latest in a trend sweeping other libraries across the United States.
"I am not sure I am teaching an 8-year-old personal responsibility when they come in and we say to them, 'I am sorry you can't have any items today,' " she said. "Research shows people who return their books on time, responsibly, will continue to do so, because it's the right thing to do."
The library president cited cities like Salt Lake City, Nashville, and Columbus, Ohio, who reported higher circulation after adopting the policy, to back her decision.
Daniels said the Baltimore library, which has seen a drop in circulation in recent years, is expected to lose just a quarter of a percent of the system's $40 million budget as a result eliminating fines.