Business

Timberland OKs late-book fees

Timberland Regional Library’s board of trustees voted unanimously this week to levy fines for overdue library materials for the first time in the organization’s 40-year history.

Starting Oct. 1, the regional library service, which serves Thurston, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason and Pacific counties, will charge 15 cents per item per day for overdue materials such as books, DVDs and CDs, spokesman Jeff Kleingartner said Friday. The maximum fine, per item, is capped at $5, he said.

In a related move, the board of trustees also voted to approve a computer printout charge of 10 cents per page for public-access computers that will take effect in January 2010. There will be no charge for pages printed from the online library catalog, the regional library service said.

The overdue-materials and printout charges are expected to raise annual revenue of $565,000. In addition to helping the organization’s budget, the new rules will help it recover the cost of paper and toner, and the prospect of a fine should encourage library users to return borrowed materials on time or earlier, Kleingartner said.

Board of trustees president Judy Weaver, one of six board members who voted to approve the fines, said it wasn’t an easy decision.

“It certainly impacts our communities and we were hesitant to do it, but the revenues justify doing this move,” she said.

The board might consider reducing or eliminating the fines at some point, but they will remain for the foreseeable future, Weaver said.

AND THEN THERE WERE TWO

Until Wednesday’s vote in Montesano, Timberland Regional Library service was one of three library systems in the state that didn’t levy fines for overdue materials. Fort Vancouver in Clark County and Snoisle, a library service representing Snohomish and Island counties, still do not charge, Kleingartner said.

Based on the organization’s research, statewide library services charge from 10 cents to 25 cents per item per day for overdue materials, he said.

The regional library service also announced this week that it won’t have to lay off any of its 316 staff members or tap into cash reserves as part of an amended budget for 2009. Other cost-cutting decisions, such as leaving 23 vacant positions unfilled and reducing hours or cutting 80 substitute positions, still are planned to meet $850,000 in budget cuts. Hours also have been reduced at the system’s libraries, Kleingartner said.

TRL’s budget largely depends on property taxes, which have taken a hit amid the slower economy. A levy-lid lift failed in February.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403

rboone@theolympian.com

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