Walk-in clinic offering free counseling and referrals

Eugene Public Library.

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The new year will bring an end to overdue fines for youths at the Eugene Public Library. The change, set to take effect on Jan. 1 of 2020, means the library will cease to charge overdue fines for children and teenagers, existing fines will be cleared from youth accounts and library cards blocked by overdue fines will be made free to use.

The change is intended to “promote early literacy and reading among all Eugene youth by making library use as easy and accessible as possible,” and remove obstacles to families facing financial difficulties, according to a press release made available on Nov. 4, and information made available on the library website Nov. 1. The library cites the similar actions and successful experiences of other institutions, such as the Multnomah County Library and Springfield Public Library, as support for the shift.

The change will not affect adult overdue fine policy, and accounts will be charged if items are not returned within 30 days after the due date.

“Taking a fresh look at our methods, we realized that overdue fines unintentionally made it harder for families to use the Library,” Will O’Hearn, library services director, said in the press release.

“We’re actually encouraging folks to please return their books, but not to pay their fines until January 1st,” O’Hearn told the Emerald. “We think there will be a lot of value in folks using the materials, rather than the fees we collect.”