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Maxx and Lily Wege and their mother, Shanna Wege, are welcomed to the Livingston Parish Library System’s Book Fest Saturday, Oct. 26 at the Main Branch in Livingston by library staff member Kathy Hutchinson. Hundreds of visitors attended the festival which featured many activities for youngsters, teens and adults.

The Livingston Parish Library is eliminating overdue fees in an effort to re-engage community members who might have avoided the system due to costs hanging over their heads.

The library system had already eliminated fines on all teen and youth accounts in October 2018, but the sweeping policy applying to all accounts took effect Dec. 1.

Library director Giovanni Tairov said Friday studies have shown overdue fines are not an incentive for returning items and in most cases become a deterrent for people using library services.

"When patrons borrow items from the library and they become overdue, those who cannot afford the fine would avoid coming back to the library," he said. "More often, they would end up keeping the borrowed items and never return them."

The library will still attempt to recover missing items, though. When a patron's item becomes overdue they'll receive a notice and have 45 days to return the item before a charge is placed on their account for the balance.

The user can return or replace the item at any time to reverse the charges, but they won't have racked up any overdue fines in the meantime.

"The (library's) mission is to provide all members of the community with resources to fulfill their informational, educational, recreational and cultural needs in a welcoming environment," Tairov said.

He added that the existence of overdue fines prevents that mission from being a universal truth for all patrons.

"We hope that the removal of fines will offer a fresh start for all patrons to rediscover the library and the many services we offer," Tairov said.

The new policy also waives overdue fines accumulated on items currently in circulation.

Email Emma Kennedy at ekennedy@theadvocate.com.