Forgetful Readers To Pay More At Library

January 27, 1991|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff writer

Those overdue library books will cost you 5 cents more per day beginning in March -- and officials say another nickel increase could comenext year.

Expecting $50,000 less in state aid this fiscal year, the Carroll County Public Library Board of Trustees increased daily fines from 10 to 15 cents per book at its monthly meeting Wednesday night.

To prepare for problems in next year's budget -- which begins in July -- board members already had approved a fine increase last monthfrom 10 to 12 cents to begin in July. Wednesday night's decision kicks in the entire 5 cents March 1.

"I only expect things to get worse," said CCPL Director Martha M. Makosky.

The $50,000 lost from the $386,280 originally expected from the state this year is likely tobe permanent. Makosky said she anticipates only $356,280 from the state again in 1992.

"(So), we'll have to cut $50,000 right off thebat next year," she said. "We may have to go to 20 cents next year."

Maximum fines go from $4 to $5 for overdue books, records, audio tapes and compact discs, and from 80 cents to $1 for paperbacks, pamphlets and magazines.

Makosky also said 15 cents is in line with what other metropolitan libraries are charging. The Enoch Pratt, Baltimore County and Howard County libraries charge 15 cents per day; Montgomery County charges 20 cents.

Library officials expect the four months of increased fines to generate $18,000 more than the $135,000 originally budgeted.

Although the new fines are a 50 percent increase, officials are expecting only 40 percent more in revenue since fewer people have overdue books when fines go up.

"People will start to get smart and return books," said board member Henry J. Romanowski.

Board member Mary Lou Dewey said, "Nobody has to pay these fines. I'd rather raise fines than start charging for services."

Trustees -- who already cut $70,021 last month to help the county's budget woes -- agreed they should begin planning for the $50,000 lost from the state before the final figures come out.

"You've already approved one revised budget," Makosky said. "Now we have to start saving money for the governor. We can save by cutting costs or increasing revenue, and I'd like to do both."

Makosky also warned the final statecut, faced by all state-supported libraries, could be higher.

"I'm not sure what the (state) reduction will be, but the latest figure is $50,000," said Makosky.

The remaining $32,000 will be cut from other operations.

Some of the larger savings are $8,170 in salaries by a slowing the replacement process when filling vacancies; $8,000in book purchases; $3,750 in salaries by not hiring substitutes for vacationing employees and $2,000 in library supplies.

The $6,000 earned by selling used books also will be put toward the shortfall. Usually, individual branches keep the money -- 50 cents per hardback, with more valuable items specially priced -- as an emergency fund.

Board member Eugenia Gartrell suggested the library could raise more money by increasing book prices.

"We could possibly get more for them," she said. "I'm tempted to go to 75 cents per book.

"If people want the book, they'll pay that much for it."

Romanowski agreed:"Especially when they see book store prices are $15 to $16."

However, CCPL Assistant Director Gail Griffith said libraries often have to lower prices to get rid of the materials.

"We have special sales to get (books) moving," she said. "We could experiment (with 75 cents), but some of the smaller branches might have storage problems."

Makosky dismissed another possible revenue source -- charging patrons to reserve a book. While other libraries have such a fee, she is against it.

"My feeling is this goes against our trying to provide equal services across the county," she said. "It's not the person's fault that we bought the book for one branch and not another."

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