Disorganized bookworms rejoice! When the Sitka Assembly meets tonight (6-8-21) it will consider a proposal to change the library users policy, eliminating late fines.
Under the current policy, library patrons are charged $.05 cents a day for late books with a maximum fine of $3 dollars and $1 dollar a day for late DVDs with a maximum fine of $5 dollars. If the assembly approves the new policy, the fines will be removed, but patrons will still be charged if they lose or damage an item. An item is considered “lost” if it isn’t returned within 28 days.
In a memo to the assembly, Library Director Jessica Ieremia writes that the policy disproportionately impacts low-income families. Patrons with a disposable income aren’t deterred by the fines, she writes, but, “ For many low-income patrons, fines act as a penalty that prevents and discourages them and their families from accessing the library.” In the last couple of years, public libraries across the country have scrapped fines in an effort to alleviate inequity.
The assembly will also take public comment on two big ticket items: The first is a $1 million dollar donation from Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. Last month, the cruise line announced it’s donating $10 million to communities across the state with no strings attached, meaning the city can spend the funding how it chooses. The assembly hasn’t allocated the money yet, and will take suggestions from the public on how to spend the funds.
The assembly will also discuss an anticipated $1.6 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. Unlike the cruise ship donation, this pot of money must be spent on projects that provide pandemic-related economic relief.
The Sitka Assembly meets tonight at Harrigan Centennial Hall. Raven News will broadcast the meeting live, following Alaska News Nightly.