Library system offers array of new programs

The North Olympic Library system is changing to a no-limit lending policy.

Patrons of the system's library branches now are able to check out as many materials as they think they can get through before they are due back. The change is one of many the library system instituted Sept. 12.

A special staff committee recommended the changes in response to customer questions, comments and suggestions. Library system officials indicated the changes make borrowing materials from the different branches more convenient.

"People who haven't used the library in a while should check it out," said Sandra Hill, Port Angeles branch manager. "They're going to find policies that are much more user-friendly and lots of great books, CDs and DVDs too."

In addition to being able to borrow as many books, DVDs and other items as they want, library patrons also can have unlimited items held for them.

Those wishing to have limits on their borrowing or the borrowing of their children can request to have limits on the number of materials their card is able to check out at one time.

Those borrowing DVDs have to be quicker in returning the films now too. Patrons now are only allowed to borrow the discs for seven days, instead of 21 days.

Customers are allowed to renew an item twice now, instead of once, as long as there are no holds on the material.

If customers have an overdue fine, they no longer are restricted from using the public computers in the library and smaller fines that once blocked checkouts no longer will do so.

The library system dropped its practice of charging a fee for mailing overdue notices and replacement cards, but there is a $10 processing fee for replacing lost or damaged materials that is in addition to the cost of the replacement.

These are not the first changes made to library operations in 2008. In the spring, the library board opted to drop the $5 fee for interlibrary loans.

Fee amnesty

In a program that ends Oct. 11, the library system is offering its customers an opportunity to receive amnesty for overdue book or movie fees.

All branches in the library system are accepting in-kind donations of nonperishable food items, unopened personal hygiene items, sealed infant formula and diapers, school supplies and office supplies in exchange for fees being dismissed.

The materials go to United Way agencies, which distribute them to those families and individuals that need them most. All donations will be distributed to people in Clallam County.

"The library had several goals for this amnesty program," said NOLS director Paula Barnes. "Most importantly, we want library customers who have stopped using the library because they had overdue fines to come back and take advantage of all the great books and other resources the library has to offer."

Barnes said the library system also hopes to get back some books that have been checked out for a long time because the customer might be reluctant to return it because of the fines.

"We also want to strengthen the library's partnership with agencies and programs that help people in need in our county," she added.

Those participating are encouraged to donate items of an equivalent value to their fines.

The "De-Fine Your Community" program, as it is called, will kick off a countywide United Way Day of Caring at each library system branch. Forks had its day of caring on Sept. 12 while Sequim and Port Angeles both had theirs Sept. 13.

"It's a win-win situation," said Jody Moss, executive director of the United Way of Clallam County. "The library gets back some customers and books that may have fallen by the wayside and the great agencies that do so much to help people in Clallam County get some much-needed supplies."

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