A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

All Libraries: You’ve had enough to deal with already, so it’s ‘Amnesty for All’ — library fines forgiven

Libraries all across the Commonwealth of Kentucky are making it easier for people to use their local library when coronavirus restrictions are eased and libraries can reopen.

The boards of trustees of all four Northern Kentucky public libraries — Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties — voted at their April board meetings to provide “Amnesty for All” and waive all fines and fees for all library patrons.

This amnesty offer includes charges for lost or damaged items assessed prior to March 14, 2020 when area libraries closed to protect the health and safety of staff and patrons.

Items currently checked out are expected to be returned to the respective libraries so that others may use the materials. Overdue fees for returned items will not be charged until the libraries fully reopen.

“People have been through a lot and we want to make it as easy as possible for our patrons to use their library again,” said JC Morgan, director of the Campbell County Public Library. “Amnesty for All wipes the slate clean and provides a fresh start. This is especially important for people who have suffered through this pandemic.”

Patrons do not need to come to the library to clear their accounts.

Dave Schroeder, director of the Kenton County Public Library, said waiving fines and fees allows people to use all of the library’s services at a time when they need the library the most.

Libraries are not alone in helping people who have suffered from the coronavirus pandemic. Landlords are waiving rents, unemployment benefits have been extended, small business loans are being granted and many businesses are providing multiple free services.

Everyone is figuring out how to work from home or anticipate the new normal.

“People have lost their jobs and some have lost loved ones. Parents have put their lives on hold to help homeschool their children. Families with tight incomes may have had to give up internet access or put streaming services on hold. This is a tough time for everyone. We know that providing total amnesty is the right thing to do to help people where we can,” said Carrie Herrmann, director of Boone County Public Library.

Susan Nimersheim, director of Grant County Public Library, said she was thrilled to learn that at least 26 libraries all around the state are waiving fines and fees.

“Libraries provide a great public service and it’s nice that so many of us have come together to help people through a very difficult time.

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