By Erika Urivez
Children and teens will no longer face the penalty of overdue fines at Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL), opening the door to more open books and less screen-time.
The recent decision was announced in a press release on Wednesday, April 10. Fines will no longer continue accumulating after the materials’ due date and additionally, previous fines that may have been a financial barrier to reading have been erased. Their only responsibility will be to pay for the loss or damage of any materials if it may occur.
Director of Grand Rapids Public Library, John McNaughton, explained in the press release that the community is facing a problem that “75 percent of Grand Rapids Public School third graders are not proficient in reading” and how this new policy may help.
“By removing a large barrier to using the library, we can get books in homes and help to develop a daily reading habit,” McNaughton stated. “Our goal is to emphasize the return of library material rather than penalizing our youngest patrons. Using the library should not be a source of stress for families. Life gets complicated. Take an extra day or two if needed. We will still be here for you.”
Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss also gave her input on how this news may help the youth of the community.
“This is great news for families in our city,” Mayor Bliss stated in the news release. “It’s important that we remove barriers to ensure our children are reaching their potential and that this is a great place for everyone.”
Family Video, a chain offering free rentals on children’s movies, games, as well as digital downloads of movies will now face double the competition. While they already face the media rivalry of Netflix and Hulu, rental chains in the Grand Rapids area will also face the competition from GRPL. The library’s new policy may inspire youth to instead turn their attention to books.
Grand Rapids Public Library is located next to Grand Rapids Community College’s Main Building on 111 Library St NE. The library is open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and 9 a.m.-6 p.m.Thursday-Saturday. Sunday’s hours are 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Interested readers can search for books on the library’s catalog.