Alva Review-Courier -

Alva library working on policy to eliminate book fines


The Alva Public Library Board has asked Library Director Sandra Ott Hamilton to put together a proposal for eliminating fines on overdue books. At Monday’s meeting, Hamilton told the board the library took in $68 in fines during February. They also received $157 for making copies and $4 for sending or receiving faxes. The remaining miscellaneous income of $37 was for book replacements and interlibrary loans.

Hamilton said at a workshop the previous week, she heard about one metro library that had been collecting $250,000 annual revenue from fines, but they found 84,000 patrons had their privileges blocked due to unpaid fines. They went fine free on youth department books only for about ten years before they extended the same privilege to the adult section.

She said the youth are the ones the local library particularly want to encourage to read so just making that department fine free might be a good first step. She said the example library blocked privileges when a book was overdue by 35 days.

Currently the Alva library will renew older books if someone needs to keep them longer. Hamilton said new books are an exception, particularly if there is a waiting list of patrons for that book. Books are generally checked out for a two week period. DVD’s have a one week checkout.

Hamilton said moving to eliminate fines emphasizes responsibility on the part of patrons whereas collecting fines makes the system more punitive.

Board members said they preferred to eliminate fines for overdue books in all departments, not just youth. Hamilton said if privileges are suspended for long overdue books, she’d like to make an exception on internet use. She said suspending internet privileges punishes those who don’t own a computer since the library has open wifi access for those who bring their own computers.

The board asked Hamilton to work on a proposed policy to bring back to a later meeting. Hamilton said once the library board approves a policy, it will need to go to the city council. She hopes to have something approved by the beginning of the new fiscal year July 1.

Looking over the library statistics for February, Hamilton noted 155 new patrons have been added since July 1, 2019. Checkouts of digital magazines dropped to eight from 23 in January. Hamilton said the library has to pay for this service. If numbers don’t improve, the library will probably spend that money on something more popular.

The Alva library was one of the Oklahoma sites selected to carry the PLA training sessions. Several librarians attended including one from Perry. Hamilton said there were five training sessions on the one-day video feed.

The Chocolate Fantasy will be held April 2. Hamilton said staff member Angela Courson helped the Friends of the Library by designing the ads and posters for the event.

Four staff members are involved in helping with the youth summer programs. Hamilton handed out preliminary calendars for June, July and August listing all the events scheduled. The Summer Reading Program will be held on Mondays during June with younger children, those entering kindergarten through third grade, meeting at 10:30 a.m. The older group, those entering fourth through sixth grade, will meet at 1 p.m. A number of small group activities have been scheduled for July including a children’s theater workshop.

The youth library computer slowed down considerably when it was upgraded to Windows 10. A new computer was to be delivered during the week. The old computer will be set up to be used as a “card catalog” or reference system. Hamilton said many younger patrons don’t know how to look up books in such a system so she hopes to encourage them to learn.

The Oklahoma Healthy Aging Initiative will be offering a class on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the library from April 21 through July 2. The one-hour class starts at 2:15 p.m. and is focused on SAIL (Staying Active and Independent for Life). It is a fitness program for older adults and can be done sitting or standing. It’s designed to improve balance and posture, strengthen muscles, improve quality of sleep, relieve stress and much more. Pre-registration is required by calling 580-297-5137 or emailing


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