Going Late-Fee Free

Recently, late return fees have been making headlines, as many libraries across the country are removing them completely. This includes the Stoughton High School Library Media Center, which, beginning this year, is no longer charging for overdue media.
Cathy Gargano, the Stoughton High School Media Specialist, happily discusses the reasoning behind this needed change.
“The true mission of a library is to have free and equitable access to all […] there have been students in the past who have told me to my face, ‘I’m afraid to check out a book because if I have it late we can’t afford to pay the fee,’” Gargano says.
There are many instances where somebody would need to keep a book longer than the loan period. Maybe they travel between households and the book can’t travel with them. Maybe they don’t have much time to read.
“I didn’t feel right about charging overdue fees for something needed for school when it’s supposed to be a free education,” Gargano says.
Libraries across the country would argue that they couldn’t eliminate late fines because they needed the revenue gained from them, but according to Gargano, “The revenue is so small that it doesn’t outweigh the negative impacts of people [being] banned from checking out items […] it negatively affects people that can’t afford to pay the fines.”
Joan Myszkowski, the Stoughton High School Library Media Aide, was also happy to hear about these new changes. She believes that in implementing these changes, students will feel more comfortable using the library services.
“You guys have so much to juggle and remember to do, it’s easy for something like a book’s due date to slip through the cracks. If more time is needed, a book can always be renewed […] Ms. Gargano and I are always happy to help. Whether it’s finding a book you can’t wait to read or helping you come up with a plan to help get the books back,” Myszkowski says.
However, not all types of fines were eliminated. LMC users will still be charged if items are lost or damaged, and students with late media will receive overdue notices. Gargano hopes that, by removing overdue fees, “students feel more comfortable coming to the library. I hope it’s a positive feeling […] I would hate to think that students had negative feelings about the library. It makes me sad to think that.”