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Friday Memorial Library increases access in 2018

Todd Kittel

Ebenezer Scrooge would be appalled. The old miser would give a loud "Bah!" and a hard-hearted "Humbug!" at how hard we have been working to make your library as accessible as possible without costing the patrons so much as a shilling.

In April, the Friday Memorial Library Board of Trustees voted to reduce the fees on overdue materials across the board. Then, near the summer's end, we held our own "Back to School Sale," cutting fines in half during the two weeks leading up to Labor Day. This saved our patrons nearly a thousand dollars.

If that wasn't sweet enough, the library board followed up with a wholesale "Fine Amnesty" program in September, completely forgiving another $1,300. Scrooge wouldn't understand: the money saved by our loyal patrons is nice, but the opportunity to welcome back long-lost friends and once-misplaced library materials meant so much more.

In that same spirit of bringing folks back to the library, the entire MORE system of 50 local libraries showed Scrooge how to do away with nasty ghosts from our past. First, the MORE libraries glanced back five years and completely dropped any fines that old, or older. In that one forgiving gesture, more than 32,000 patrons throughout the system saved over $360,000. Then, we all took it a step further and waived another batch of ten-year-old replacement fees that had been billed at about $260,000, sending the gift of kindness to another 5,700 library patrons.

Rather than finding coal in their stockings this year, we hope our patrons will warmly receive the good will that comes their way from the library's leaders and staff. Many of them are old, loyal friends who have long relied on us for the latest books, movies, music, magazines and technology. Others are newcomers to the community who marvel at the easy access to everything we offer from children's activities to internet access to e-books and document scanning.

Now, as we look ahead to 2019, we are happily anticipating the return of old acquaintances who might have been staying away because of past oversights. The doors to the public library are always open to everyone.

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