SMITHFIELD – As of July 1, 2022, the Public Library of Johnston County and Smithfield (PLJCS), along with its affiliated libraries, became “fine-free” for Johnston County library patrons. This means that patrons will no longer be assigned fees for overdue materials.
As part of this new initiative, Johnston County Affiliated Libraries also erased all past overdue fines on patron accounts. This does not include previous fees for lost or damaged items.
By eliminating overdue fines, PLJCS aims to re-engage patrons who have stopped utilizing the Library due to outstanding overdue fees, provide more effective methods to encourage the return of library items (however late they may be), and use staff time and resources in more effective ways that best serve Johnston County residents. This change is a part of an institutional movement from libraries state and nationwide that have been guided by the recommendations of the American Library Association in an effort to increase free public access to library services.
PLJCS Library Director Johnnie Pippin believes this is a new chapter in the library’s overall vision. “We want to remove barriers and make library access easier, equitable, and enjoyable for the residents of Johnston County, not block individuals from utilizing the library. This initiative is about focusing on recovery of our materials, not charging punitive monetary fines. The hope is that anyone who stopped using our wonderful library will come back and take advantage of our great services.”
Going fine free is not a new initiative for PLJCS. Over the years, the Library initiated programs whereby patrons could reduce or eliminate fees for overdue materials by donating canned food to local charities. Also, PLJCS has been a part of a student access program that allows all Johnston County students, teachers, and administration to use their student ID number to utilize online resources as well as allow physical items to check out without applying overdue fees.
Borrowed material will continue to have due dates, and patrons will receive notices when their materials are due to be returned. There will be the added measure of two automatic renewals if there are no holds. If an item is not returned within its designated timeframe, or is returned damaged, then patrons will still be charged for lost or damaged items.
Patrons can return items to any NC Cardinal member library.
PLJCS is located at 305 E. Market St. in Downtown Smithfield. All services are available during regular business hours 9:00am – 5:30pm Monday-Wednesday and Friday, 9:00am – 7:30pm Thursday, and 9:00am – 1:00pm Saturday.