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Lewis County Libraries Go Fine Free, Becoming First North Country County to Permanently Eliminate Overdue Fines for Library Patrons


Published: May 16, 2022 at 09:45 a.m.

By: Media Release from North Country Library System


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Eliminating fines improves access to knowledge and resources to the entire community


(WATERTOWN, NEW YORK) – All 12 libraries in Lewis County have permanently eliminated overdue fines for late items, becoming the first county in the North Country Library System to go 100% fine-free for patrons of all ages. This decision brings the libraries in line with a national movement to eliminate fines that includes Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, and Queens Public Library. 


The Lewis County libraries are:


Beaver Falls Library  

Brantingham-Greig Reading Center  

Constableville Library  

Croghan Free Library  

Harrisville Free Library  

Lowville Free Library  

Lyons Falls Library  

William H. Bush Memorial Library (Martinsburg)  

Osceola Public Library  

Port Leyden Community Library  

Town of Lewis Library (West Leyden)  

B. Elizabeth Strong Memorial Library (Turin)  


“We’ve found that overdue fines have little to no impact on people returning items on time,” says NCLS Executive Director Paulette Roes. “Eliminating fines makes it easier for everyone to use the library, and that’s what we want to see – more people using these amazing community resources.”  


For patrons with limited financial resources, fines are not merely an inconvenience, but a significant barrier to use. With overdue fines in place, patrons in Lewis County were typically blocked from borrowing items if they had accrued more than five dollars in fines. Prior to this announcement, 823 cards belonging to Lewis County residents were blocked. 125 of those belonged to children or teens. Some Lewis County libraries have cleared existing fines or plan to do so; patrons should contact their library to check the status of their account.  


“I'm proud to see Lewis County be the first fine-free county in the North County,” says Lowville Free Library Director Meghan Harney. “Fine-free libraries have both research and relationships behind them, and I'm so excited to see how this is playing out in our communities.”  


All North Country libraries temporarily suspended fines during COVID-related building closures in 2020. Most of them elected to make the change permanent when they reopened to the public.  


For more information, contact Angela Newman at anewman@ncls.org .  


About the North Country Library System  


The North Country Library System is a support organization that delivers services to the 65 public libraries located in Jefferson, Lewis, Oswego, and St. Lawrence counties. Through shared library services, cooperative purchasing, coordinated literacy campaigns, and training, NCLS maximizes sharing, creativity, and innovation to help improve the lives of North Country residents at home, at work, at school, and at play.  


Visit us online at ncls.org 










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