This spring, Great Bend Public Library plans to do away with late fees.
Library Director Harry Willems received approval Monday from the GBPL Board of Directors, although the details of a new policy weren’t spelled out.
Adult Services Librarian Erin Ferguson said patrons will still have to pay for items that are lost or damaged, but items that are a few days late won’t cost anything. Those who wish may leave a donation in a “guilt jar,” she suggested.
Currently, late fees are 10 cents a day for books, but $1 a day for DVDs, and that can add up quickly. Patrons can’t return DVDs after business hours because they aren’t accepted in the outside drop box.
Willems said he’s looking into purchasing a different kind of drop box that can safely accept DVDs. He also has experience with eliminating late fees at a library.
“When I stopped charging fines in Park City I saw people I hadn’t seen in years,” he said.
Board member Colleen Newman said there should be a celebration to introduce the end of fees in March. Ferguson suggested “March Madness” as the theme.
Meanwhile, the staff will come up with new rules on how and when people will be notified when their library materials are overdue, and at what point they will be expected to pay for a replacement item. They may have their check-out privileges curtailed if items aren’t returned “in a reasonable time,” Willems said.
More meeting rooms
Willems also received the board’s approval to remodel the Kansas Room at the library, which he said is isn’t used nearly enough.
Instead of one room, there will be a conference room and three small rooms. The conference room will continue to have a table that can seat 12. There will be tables for six in two of the small rooms. The third small room will have study carols and an Argonne Rebels display.
“We have an increasing need for private meeting space,” Willems reported. There will be Plexiglas windows in the study rooms, and the doors will not lock. So, while the rooms will be suitable for quiet meetings, librarians will be able to keep an eye on things. They won’t become a room for couples’ “kanoodling,” he said.
Each small room may be reserved for 1-2 hour increments, and the conference room may be reserved for up to four hours.
To make room for this configuration, the collection of Kansas materials will go out into the stacks, but federal documents will remain where they are. Most of the shelving in the room will be removed.
Staff will supply the labor and materials will cost $776.50, Willems estimated.
In other business, Willems told the board that electronic “people counters” have been installed above the east and north entrances to the library, so there will now be an accurate count of how many people enter the building. They are mounted on the ceiling.
“A group of people can come through at once and it counts all of them,” Willems said.
The board will receive monthly attendance reports. Willems noted that between Wednesday, Nov. 20, and the board meeting on Monday afternoon, 1,400 people had entered the library.