Copperas Cove city council drops library late fees
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Copperas Cove Public Library will no longer charge late fees for overdue books, after a decision by the Copperas Cove City Council during its regular meeting held Tuesday evening.
The policy change was brought forth by Library Director Kevin Marsh, who said that this might be “one of the largest policy changes I have brought to council in my seven-year tenure here as the Copperas Cove Public Library Director.”
The removal of late fees is a national trend, Marsh said.
“Currently, over 200 cities and municipalities have removed overdue fines, from large cities like Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and most recently, Dallas, to very small towns,” Marsh said. “The research and the experience from other communities that have done this show that it increases return materials rather than decreases, as you might think it would, and that it increases library card adoption. Currently, the fear of library fines is an inhibiting factor that prevents a lot of people from getting a library card who might otherwise do so.”
Marsh explained that the most common cases of late returns is with families having an incident that prevents them from returning the book on time. A family who borrows 20 children’s books and turns them in five days overdue would have to pay a $25 fine. Presently, the library collects about $2,000 in late fees annually.
In the Central Texas region, Georgetown Public Library is one of those who have recently implemented a similar policy.
A library patron will still be charged to replace a book along with a processing fee if they have lost an item, but they will not have to pay anything if they have just kept the book past its due date and then return it.
The library’s current policy is to bill for the overdue item 45 days after the due date. The checkout period is usually for 21 days, and if there is no one waiting for the item, the library will auto-renew the item for another 21 days, and again for a third period, for a total of two auto-renewals.
After 45 days, Marsh said the library declares the book officially lost and issues a bill for the cost of the item and a processing fee because of the work the library does for each new item to prepare for circulation.
The council also approved a resolution authorizing the library to issue library cards, without charging a non-resident fee, to applicants residing in Killeen, on Fort Hood and to CCISD students and staff.
The Copperas Cove Public Library is part of the TexShare Card Program, which allows for reciprocal borrowing and eliminates the non-resident fee for members of other communities participating in the TexShare Card Program. Gatesville, Lampasas, Harker Heights and CTC as well as Baylor University, UT Austin and Texas A&M are all members of the program as well, which means a Copperas Cove resident could use these libraries with their Copperas Cove library card and not have to pay a fee.
Killeen is not part of the TexShare Card Program, but the Killeen library does offer borrower privileges for free to residents of nearby communities. The Casey Library on Fort Hood also offers borrowing privileges to any Copperas Cove resident who has regular access on post, but as a Federal library, they are not able to be a part of the TexShare Card Program.
Killeen residents and Fort Hood residents who use the Copperas Cove library have to pay $10 per year for a library card.
There are also some CCISD students who live outside of the city limits but within the school district, who would benefit from a library card as well.
“I would like to encourage all CCISD students to have a library card with their public library,” Marsh said. “Certainly, we’ve all seen the value of that in recent weeks as many of us no longer have access to school libraries. Well, it doesn’t just take a pandemic; normally, it just takes a Saturday for that to happen.”
Marsh said the offer would be extended to CCISD staff as well.
“There’s just no downside to having more members of our community being well-informed, well-educated and inspired,” Marsh said.
Fred Chavez commended Marsh and the Library Advisory Board for their efforts at bringing the library forward with these policies.
“Knowledge is power, and you certainly are doing your best to distribute that to our citizens and the citizens from the region,” Chavez said.