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No more late fees at Palm Beach County libraries

If you frequent the two county libraries in western Boca, you’re off the hook for late fees. For good.  

Beginning Oct. 1, the Palm Beach County Library System won’t charge late fines on overdue materials.

County libraries with a Boca address are:

·    Glades Road Branch, 20701 95th St. south

http://www.pbclibrary.org/branches/glades-road

·    West Boca Branch, 18685 State Road 7;

http://www.pbclibrary.org/branches/west-boca

Here’s Frequently Asked Questions from library director Douglas Crane and the library system:

Q: Does this eliminate all fees?

A: No. Members will still be charged for lost or damaged materials.

Q: What else changes or doesn’t on Oct. 1?

A: Checkout loan periods haven’t changed. Return items within seven days after the final due date to avoid replacement charges. Check out or place on hold 50 items. Items may be borrowed for three weeks and may be renewed up to three times if there is no hold.

Q: What happens if books are not returned by the end of the grace period?

A: The account will be charged the full replacement cost for the item. If the amount owed on the account is above $24.99, the account will be blocked. If accrued fees exceed $49.99, the account will be sent to a collection agency after 90 days.

Q: What happens if an item is returned after seven days?

A: When the item is returned, the charge is waived.

Q: What does account blocked mean?

A: Not able to borrow print or electronic materials or use online resources until the account balance is below $25.

Q: What happens to late fines that are already on an account?

A: Fines posted to an account prior to Oct. 1 will remain. The fines are still owed, but if they are less than $25, the account will no longer be blocked.

Q: What happens if the account has already been turned over to a collection agency?

A: The card will still be blocked until the balance is $0.

Q: How can a member access an account to see what is owed?

A: Select My Account from the top right corner of http://www.pbclibrary.org/  and sign in with the library card number and PIN. Pay online with a debit or credit card.

Accounts can be accessed from the library’s app which can be downloaded for free.  Accounts can also be paid with cash or check at any member services desk. Refunds will be issued for lost item payments made within 365 days.

Q: Why is the library system making these changes now?

Q: Fines can create a negative customer interaction that may deter people from using the library. Since overdue fines can result in restricted borrowing and use of the library, they appear to run counter to the library’s educational mission. That is to connect communities, inspire thought, and enrich lives.

Public libraries across the United States have been eliminating overdue fines. They are perceived to be an impediment to service. Studies appear to show that fines do not incentivize people to return items on time. It is also argued that fines disproportionately affect those of limited financial means. 

Q: How will the system compensate for the fines and loss of revenue? 

A: The Library Department will pursue alternative sources of revenue to compensate for the elimination of fines. 

Q: Will this mean reduced hours for Palm Beach County libraries? 

A: No

Q: Who can use these libraries?

A: Anyone who lives in unincorporated Palm Beach County or a participating city is eligible for a free card. Boca Raton city residents are not included.

Q: Can city residents also apply for a Palm Beach County library card?

A: Boca Raton is not part of the Palm Beach County Library District or the Library Cooperative of the Palm Beaches.  Therefore, city residents must purchase a one-year card for $95 or $55 for six months.

Q: Can people belong to the city and county libraries?

A: Residents may belong to both libraries. As mentioned, city of Boca residents must pay for a card with the county library system. County residents outside of Boca who wish to have a Boca City library card must purchase an individual card for a non-refundable $152 annual fee, or a family card (immediate family only) for a non-refundable $253 annual fee.

Q: Where can people get more information?

A: Go to http://www.pbclibrary.org/contact-us or call 561-482-4554 for Glades Road Branch or 561-470-1600. For city libraries, go tohttps://www.myboca.us/957/Library or call 561-393-7852.

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