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Montpelier’s Kellogg-Hubbard Library goes fine-free

Published: Jul. 3, 2021 at 7:21 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 3, 2021 at 7:29 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - One of the biggest challenges with going to a library is picking out exactly the right book. However, another common challenge, fines, is something people no longer have to worry about at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library.

“It’s nice because you can just get a bunch of books and you don’t have to worry about anything,” said 10-year-old Esme from Montpelier.

Esme says she’s excited for the 125-year-old library to no longer be handing out fines. She’s an avid reader and wants to make sure others can have the same access to her enjoyment.

“Books are really important because they’re really fun to read, so it’s really good that anybody can read them without having to pay money if you forget to turn one in,” said Esme.

Staff at Kellogg-Hubbard Library have slowly been weaning the library’s budget off relying on funds from fines. It used to be 25 cents a day, but now thanks to business support, donors, and their ongoing book sale, they’ve turned a page.

“It makes the library really truly free for people,” said Carolyn Brennan, the co-director of the Kellogg-Hubbard Library.

Brennan says the library is joining the larger push nationally to go fine-free.

“The library is meant to be the equitable place. The library is the place where anybody can come in with no expectations or prerequisites and just exist in this place and borrow freely, and you really shouldn’t have to come in here with a set of worries,” said Brennan.

They do limit just how many times someone can renew a book, and if it’s clear someone has just walked away with one, they do have a billing system. However, this is all about making sure everyone can enjoy the thrill of a good book.

“They kind of inspire you, well for me at least, it inspires me a lot for different reasons, and it gets me kind of like, ‘Oh my gosh, what if I wrote a book?” said Esme.

“The wholesomeness of holding a book and reading it to yourself or your child is so magical and special, so it’s so great to have that still,” said Caity Kaye from Calais.

Kellogg-Hubbard is not the only library that went fine-free on July 1. Middlebury’s Ilsley Library also joined in the ranks of libraries no longer charging, including Fletcher Free Library in Burlington.

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