Library Officials Seek Boost In Late Fines, Copy Fees

Increases Needed To Avert Cutbacks In Services, Purchases

January 11, 1991|By Elise Armacost | Elise Armacost,Staff writer

County library officials, hoping to avoid cutbacks in services and book purchases during this difficult economic period, are seeking a 50percent increase in overdue fines and photocopying fees.

Director Edward Hall has recommended that the fine for overdue materials be increased from 10 to 15 cents per day and that the maximum charge for a single overdue item be raised from $4 to $6. The cost of photocopying would rise from 10 to 15 cents per page.

The 24-member Board of Library Trustees is scheduled to decide onthe fee increases at its Thursday meeting.

Board President Maurice Rindskopf expects the increases to be approved.

"The general opinion is that our fines have been no greater than other libraries in the state, and our copying fees are equally low. The board's attitude is that it's not unreasonable to think about raising them," Rindskopf said. "People don't have to pay fines if they don't want to."

Daily overdue fines have not been raised since 1980, and the maximum fine has been unchanged since 1987, library spokeswoman Diane Rey said. Photocopying fees have not been increased since 1982.

"Other libraries in the state are also considering increasing their fines," Rey said. "We're all facing budget problems."

Earlier this month, county libraries lost $118,000 for the fiscal year ending June 30 when thestate cut $1.3 million in aid to Anne Arundel. County Executive Robert R. Neall has ordered all agencies and departments to devise "no growth" budgets for fiscal 1992, which begins July 1.

A 50-percent increase in overdue fines and copying fees will probably result in only a 25 percent increase in revenues from those sources, Rindskopf said, because higher fees almost always cause people to be more conscientious about returning their books on time. Last year, the library took in $350,000 in fines and fees.

Without any fee increases, the library almost certainly would be faced with making cuts that could affect services.

"Since we had the option to add some revenues, we thought we would rather do that than continually nibble away at parts of the budget. Otherwise, we're going to have to cut back on books andsupplies or the buildings are going to get dirty," Rindskopf said.

Some reductions in purchases and services are inevitable during theremainder of this fiscal year, which ends June 30, because of the $118,000 state cut.

The library hopes to save $6,000 by not shampooing carpets this year, Rey said. The number of programs performed by outsiders paid by the library to come to Anne Arundel will be reduced.Eliminating an annual brunch for library volunteers will save $1,000. A scheduled update of the computerized library catalog will be delayed until summer.

Most significantly, officials will have to cut the number of new books and other materials by about $20,000, or about2,000 items, Rey said.

"It's not something patrons should notice,since we spend $1.6 million" on materials, she said. The library will try to eliminate mostly low-priority reference materials and multiple copies of popular items.

Rindskopf said he hoped higher fees and fines could prevent similar reductions next year. If approved by the board, the fines probably will go into effect sometime before July 1, he said.

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