13 May We are now a fine free library!
Posted at 14:51h
Great Falls Public Library is thrilled to announce that we are now a fine free library! Please call 406-453-0349 for more information.
The Great Falls Public Library has eliminated late fines
At their meeting on May 26th, the Library Board of Trustees voted unanimously to forgive all outstanding late fines and eliminate the assessing of late charges on library accounts.While the vote was made in late May, the changes to the libraries software and accounting systems required time to be fully enacted. An anonymous donation of $85,000 was made to the Great Falls Public Library Foundation and designated for capital improvements on the condition that the library proceed with Fine Free plans as outlined in the library’s 2019-2022 strategic plan (available on the library’s website here.
Great Falls Public Library has not been assessing late fines since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak last winter, but late fines left in the system from previous years lingered, preventing some people from accessing library materials and services.
The library conducted community surveys as part of the development of their strategic plan, and found that as many as half of the respondents who did not currently use the library had library cards, but were blocked from access due to outstanding fines.
Late fine payments account for roughly .07% of the library’s budget, and are not a significant source of funding. The library is hopeful that folks who are happy about the library’s efforts to serve the community will choose to support the library with donations to help make up for the lost revenue. Other libraries that have enacted fine free policies have seen an increase in returned items, meaning that their budget is not as impacted by having to purchase replacement materials.
The Library plans to continue to host the Fine Free Fun Run introduced last summer. Last year’s event raised over $3,000 and paid off the fines of over 300 cardholders, most of whom were 6 years old and younger. The 2nd Annual Fine Free Fun Run was scheduled for June of this year, but has been postponed due to the current health crisis. Future Fine Free Fun Runs will help offset the loss of income from fines.
The Great Falls Public Library has a policy of working with patrons to create payment plans for fines and fees. To continue to check out library materials, a patron must have a payment plan in place, or owe less than $5.00. However, patrons may not be aware of these options, and do not return to the library, making it impossible for library staff to communicate those options. This information is on the F.A.Q page of the library’s website here.
Patrons who have been blocked from using their library card due to late fines are encouraged to return to the library to update their card or get a replacement. Replacement cards themselves cost $1, however, patrons may use a photo id to verify their account information in order to check out materials.
Lost or damaged items still carry fees. Payment plans on lost and damaged items are available for as little as $5 per month. Patrons on payment plans are able to continue to check out library materials as long as they meet their monthly minimum.
Great Falls Public Library encourages patrons to call or email us with any questions, and to follow us on social media for updates.
Monday: Curb Side Appointments
OPEN TO ALL Tuesday: 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Wednesday: 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Thursday: 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Friday: 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Saturday: 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm
VULNERABLE POPULATIONS ONLY Tuesday: 10:00 am to 11:00 am Thursday: 10:00 am to 11:00 am
PHONE SERVICE (406) 453-0349 Monday: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm Tuesday to Saturday: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
The Great Falls Public Library has been working hard to be able to open safely. We have installed plexiglass shields at each of the public desks. All staff will be wearing masks when working with the public. We have re-arranged furniture and public computers to ensure social distancing. We have developed cleaning protocols and provided training to staff. Hand sanitizing stations are installed throughout the Library. Patrons are encouraged to practice good hygiene by covering coughs/sneezes and washing hands frequently. Masks are required. We ask that the public not come to the Library if they are sick. Great Falls Public Library encourages patrons to call or email us with any questions, and to follow us on social media for updates.