GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. — As we ring in the New Year, your Garfield County Libraries will ring in a new age of library access for the community. The Library Board recently decided to eliminate charges for overdue materials. This comes as a result of library staff continuing to look for ways to remove barriers in connecting residents with the books and information they need to live happy, healthy lives.

“We know we have people in our communities who have stopped using our libraries because they have overdue charges on their accounts. Other residents are fearful of using the library at all because they worry that a family member might forget when an item is overdue and return it late,” said Brett Lear, Executive Director of Garfield County Libraries. “Now, more than ever, we also know that people are turning to their libraries for information on COVID-19, for books and movies to help with isolating at home, and for public computers and loanable hotspots that help people get online and connect with others. ​We want to make our libraries available and welcoming to everyone.​”

Research shows that libraries that have gone fine free often experience an increase in usage. For example, Denver Public Library eliminated fines in 2019 and reported that thirty-five percent of patrons with overdue charges who had stopped using their services ended up re-engaging with their libraries within the first twelve months.

“We know that late fines, no matter how small, can be a significant barrier to checking out books and enjoying libraries,” said Whitney Jordan, Garfield County Libraries’ Library Collection Manager. “With this change we hope to demonstrate our commitment to being a welcoming environment for all residents, regardless of socioeconomic status or the ability to travel to one of our locations at specific times.”

Garfield County Libraries remains committed to sustaining its collection of library books and movies and maximizing public access to these materials. Due dates for library materials will remain in place, and if someone does not return a book, DVD, or other item, then a replacement charge will be added to their account after 60 days past due in order to cover the cost of a replacement. These due dates and charges will remain in place so that library materials will continue to be returned, available, and shared by everyone.

Garfield County Libraries encourage you to stop by your local branch and see all that is available for free with a library card. From fantasy novels to online movies to escape everyday life, from books for school to online homework help with a live tutor, and from public computers to loanable hotspots, your libraries have wonderful, new resources to help you start the year. You can also find books, access your account, and get more information about the new fine free initiative at ​​.