The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County is giving its customers a second chance in the form of a “conditional” library card, which will restore library privileges for cardholders who are blocked due to unpaid extended-use fees. The new card will be offered beginning Thursday.
“In looking for a way to connect our blocked cardholders with a solution, we created the conditional card so that customers can still access our services, and the library can be fiscally responsible in collecting fines and fees accrued,” said Heidi Daniel, executive director of PLYMC. The conditional card applies to customers who owe between $10 and $300 in unpaid fines and fees. A cardholder is blocked from borrowing and computer privileges after accruing $10 in extended use fees. “We feel a responsibility to collect these fees,” said Daniel, “but we also realize that there are many customers who have good intentions and want to do the right thing, but find themselves in human situations where they are unable to pay off their fees in total. We know that life happens, and we are not unsympathetic to that. We wanted to find a solution that would enable them to again use the library. “We realize, for example, that someone who is searching for a job may need to have their borrowing privileges restored in order to use library computers to search for jobs, file job applications or submit a resume. In order to create a win-win situation of finding a way to say ‘yes’ to our customers and also say ‘yes’ to our fiscal responsibilities, we created the conditional card.”
Janet Loew, public-relations director for the library system, said the idea for the new card grew from community conversations in which people said they wanted the library to remove barriers to service where possible. “We took these conversations seriously, and discussions arose from the community input, which resulted in this new card,” said Loew. Under this conditional card, the cardholder must make an initial payment of $5 or 10 percent of the total amount owed, if less than $50, and at least 10 percent of the total balance must be paid within the first 60 days. The full balance is due within two years.
YES. This makes me so excited, because amnesty days and getting people back in the library have both been on my mind a lot during the past year. I love this model, because everyone wins. We have a very friendly/accommodating reputation at my organization, and this is right in line with that. Mental note to self to add this to an upcoming managers’ meeting agenda…
Love this. I work with teens who are frequently turned away from using our equipment because of fees over $10 - and a good deal of the time it’s because a parent has used their cards to check out books and DVDs.
A frequent form of trolling we see at the library is children giving their senior citizen parents ereaders.
We need witty sallies about the creative spelling used in the library’s incident reports. Like yesterday’s gem, “misbehaven.”