TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Baltimore County Public Libraries announced Thursday that they are discontinuing extended loan fees, or late fees, and they are eliminating outstanding balances on cardholders’ accounts.

BCPL said the change will clear the accounts of 74,841 cardholders, out of the 416,427 total cardholders the system has.

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Library Director Sonia Alcántara-Antoine said the fine-free model will make the library system more accessible to the people who need it the most.

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“This is a huge milestone for Baltimore County Public Library, and we are thrilled to join a cadre of other prestigious library systems around the country that have embraced a fine-free model,” said Library Director Sonia Alcántara-Antoine. “Library fines create barriers to access and hurt the people who need its resources and services the most. Eliminating unnecessary fees levels the playing field for all in the community and it is exciting to be part of this structural change.”

Cardholders won’t face fines for keeping items beyond the return date, but they’ll need to return overdue books to check out more items. Visitors will still be responsible for replacement costs if a book is damaged or lost.

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“There is mounting evidence that indicates eliminating fines increases library card adoption and library usage.” said the American Library Association in a Resolution on Monetary Library Fines as a Form of Social Inequity

CBS Baltimore Staff