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Cranston Public Library proposes going "fine free" for children and teen materials


Cranston Public Library proposes going "fine free" for children and teen materials
In an effort to remove barriers for young people to use the library; the Cranston Public Library has proposed going "fine free" on all children's and teen materials. This proposal was unanimously approved by the Library Board of Trustees in January. This is a continuation of the library's efforts to remove barriers to library use and increase access to resources for young people and families using the library. These efforts started in 2016 when Library Director Ed Garcia, Mayor Allan Fung and Superintendent Jeannine Nota-Masse signed on the the Leaders Library Card Challenge. This national effort launched in 2015 was an effort to get library cards into the hands of all students. 
This past September the library, school department and Mayor's office teamed up for the "Fresh Start" initiative; an effort to make sure every Cranston student had a working library card. During the month long initiative the library issued or updated 1097 library cards and waived close to $3000 in overdue fines.
"The library noticed that fines had a became a barrier for some families from using the library. Many don't return to the library because of an inability to pay fines or for fear of accumulating them. " said Library Director Edward Garcia, "Penalizing young people for late books makes libraries feel unwelcoming".
Library statistics show that over 2200 Cranston children's cards are blocked from using the library due to overdue fines. Also 51% of overdue items are children's materials. "Since fines are part of the library's operating budget, we approached Mayor Fung to make a small investment by lowering library revenue by $20,000 to fund the fine free program". Said Garcia. "The Mayor understood this small investment will make a big difference in providing educational and reading opportunities to all students in Cranston whether their families can afford to pay library fines or not"
"I’m proud that we’re able to eliminate fines for children and teen materials at all of our nationally-recognized libraries and eliminate a barrier standing between children and their access to books,” commented Mayor Allan W. Fung. “ When our library director approached us with the idea, I included support for the program in next year’s budget without hesitation. It’s a small community investment that will pay huge dividends. In Cranston, we prioritize the wellness our children and fine-free materials at our libraries is one example of how this city collaborates to solve problems and is one of the top cities to live in America.”
Fine Free Proposal Details:
-All Cranston Public Library locations will be fine free for children's and teen materials.

-A library user even if fines are not imposed will not be able to check out additional materials until all overdue materials are returned.

-CPL will still have to collect fines imposed on materials owned by other Rhode Island libraries.

-Library patrons will still be responsible for the replacement cost of items lost or not-returned

The proposal is awaiting final approval from the City Council as part of the overall Cranston municipal budget. Once approved the fine free program will launch on July 1, 2018.